[EDLING:357] CFP: Academic Activism

Francis M. Hult fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Tue Oct 26 09:18:35 UTC 2004

Raising our Voices: Encouraging ‘Academic

A Graduate Student-Convened Colloquium: Friday,
March 11, 2005
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

“Most academics just ramble. Far too few raise a
fist or a voice”
(Kalle Lasn, Culture Jam 116).

Kalle Lasn, publisher of Adbusters, is critical
of what he sees as the failure of academics to
engage directly with social, environmental, and
other injustices; “theories and explanations,” he
insists, are not enough. This colloquium is
motivated by the urge to move beyond critique to
change. Such a shift not only involves critically
engaging with arguments like Lasn’s, but also
requires that we use our positions as politically
engaged educators, researchers, and citizens to
work toward tangible material change. Henry
Giroux claims that the “teaching profession alone
has the primary responsibility to educate
critical citizens” and that teachers’ work must
be informed by an awareness of their “public
responsibility that by its very nature involves
them in the struggle for democracy” (Border
Crossings 15). This colloquium is an opportunity
to consider the possible limitations of academic
work and to seek new ways to take up Giroux’s
call for more responsible and engaged educational

Raising our Voices is a day-long event devoted to
debate and dialogue about academics’ social and
political roles and responsibilities. The
colloquium is committed to an inter-disciplinary
engagement with “academic activism,” offering a
space for dialogue between divergent perspectives
on the relationship between social change and
academic work. Participants’ formal and informal
contributions will represent a collaborative
effort to forge a positive and constructive
identity for critical educators and other
intellectuals. Each set of formal papers will be
followed by open dialogue on the arguments and
problems the papers have raised. Confirmed
keynote speakers are Henry Giroux and Sherene

Motivating questions include – but needn’t be
limited to – the following:
How do we “teach to transgress”?
What's the point of academic work?
What is (or should be) the university’s role in
public life?
What, as teachers and researchers in diverse
disciplines, can and should we contribute to
struggles for justice? Do our responsibilities
and potential impact vary from one discipline to
How can academics and other intellectual workers
participate in broader struggles for social
justice?  How could we become more involved?
How does our institutional context prevent or
constrain efforts at direct political engagement?

Please submit a short (250 word) description of
your 15-minute paper or presentation, outlining
your chosen focus and major arguments. We welcome
submissions from a variety of disciplines and
perspectives, including (but not limited to)
literary studies, theatre studies, cultural
studies, women’s studies, music, and law. Papers
will be grouped to form panels of 3 to 4
speakers: panel submissions are welcomed.
Proposals must arrive no later than November
15th, 2004. Please send electronically to:
raisingourvoices at yahoo.ca

This colloquium is sponsored by the McMaster’s
John Douglas Taylor Fund and the Institute on
Globalization and the Human Condition. We thank
the Institute and the Taylor family for their
generous financial support.

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