The double crisis of the university and the global economy

144_44821[Info from the people at Mute]

Talk: Wednesday 26 November 2008 at 4pm
Goldsmiths University of London – Warmington Tower 1210

For a number of weeks in Italy the entire education system – from universities to elementary schools, from students to researchers and from parents to teachers – has been mobilizing. Marches, occupations, demonstrations, pickets and blockages of the metropolitan flow have replaced the dreary rhythm of school timetables and university courses. The protests are directed against the new budget cuts implemented by Berlusconi’s government last summer, which seriously undermine the public nature of education and research.

The university movement – self-named the ‘Anomalous Wave’ – acts within a specific context, such as the long crisis and decline of the Italian higher education system. However, it also critically underlines common trends in the transformations affecting the university at the European and transnational level: i.e. the Bologna process, the corporatization of education and the changes of the welfare system, the central role of knowledge in the mode of production, the rise of casualised labor, the emergence of a new type of student-worker figure.

Moreover, one of its key slogans is particularly interesting ‘We won’t pay for your crisis’. It indicates the critical intersection of a double global crisis: the university crisis and the financial crisis. The rise of a ‘debt generation’ is one of the points at which this intersection is clearly observable. But the movement is also an occasion to formulate a deeper, more complex analysis of this double crisis, in order to allow a debate between different perspectives to topics such as the rise of a global university and its various forms of translation, the conflicts in the process of knowledge production, the role of networks in the education
and financial markets.

[pic, ancient pillars hold up the University of Bologna]