Jun 062012

By Andrew Battista

The 2011-12 academic cycle is over, and many at the University of Kentucky will remember the year primarily as the “season of the unibrow,” a long odyssey that culminated when the Wildcats won their eighth NCAA men’s basketball championship.

Of course, the bygone academic calendar also doubles as the “year of the protestor,” a period in which activists gathered en masse to beat drums, camp out in tents, and occupy the chasm between the fantasy of justice and the reality of global economic imperialism.  Time Magazine did actually name “the protestor” as the Person of the Year in 2011, an honor, Kurt Anderson explains, meant to recognize citizens who “share a belief that their countries’ political systems and economies have grown dysfunctional and corrupt—sham democracies rigged to favor the rich and powerful and prevent significant change.”  Continue reading »

Feb 082012

Why public higher education should not wager on precious metals

By Andrew Battista

Most people agree that the U.S. economy imploded because brokers were placing wagers on whether or not people would be able to pay their mortgages.  The idea of mortgage debt became a speculative bubble that could not be sustained.  Now, in place of one collapsed futures market, the real estate and mortgage industry, the country has developed a twinkle in its eye for another:  precious metals commodities trading.  Our infatuation with gold in particular is as intense as it’s been in at least a century.  One needs to look no further than the Discovery Channel, which features a reality series about modern-day speculators who solicit benefactors to fund backcountry mining expeditions.  These working-class men, caricatures of American ingenuity, take a fleet of expensive equipment and ravage our last frontier, the Alaskan tundra, as they look for shards of gold now selling for $1700 per ounce on the market. Continue reading »

Aug 102011

By Jesse Cottle

“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room”

—Dr. Seuss

Once upon a time, kids were kids.  Society didn’t start pushing the importance of success and education in elementary school.  The aspiration of being a contributing member of society was just as important as wanting to be a lawyer, a doctor or president.  Teachers could teach history, English and math, without also explaining how to properly answer multiple-choice questions on a test.  High school graduates could take up the family trade without being shunned as a failure for not attending college.  You could live life, and learn as you go. Continue reading »

Jun 222011

What Kentuckians should expect from our land-grant university

By Andrew Battista

Don Pratt

Do faculty check out from the world when they check in to the university?

Editor’s note: A version of this essay originally appeared at the close of Andrew’s recently completed dissertation, Knowing, Seeing, and Transcending Nature. His committee enjoyed reading it, but they insisted that it should not be published in the final version.

It’s been at least a year since I wrote anything for North of Center. It’s not that I’ve gotten lazy, contracted writers block, or grown disinterested in Lexington. On the contrary, I’ve been furiously pecking away at my dissertation—a study of 400-year-old Renaissance literary texts—so I can resume writing about the community I experience daily, or what I like to call “the real world.” Although I learned a lot about myself and my interactions with culture while writing my dissertation, I often was frustrated when I expended my last bit of emotional energy on a riff about epistemological uncertainty in The Faerie Queene when I could have instead joined the Kentucky Rising protests in Frankfort, spearheaded campus sustainability programs, helped to clean up residue from the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, or simply reserved more time to grow my own vegetables. I haven’t even been inside the remodeled Lyric Theatre yet. Continue reading »

Apr 272011

By Christian L. Pyle

Recently I was walking through the Humanities Division office suite at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) where I’ve worked as an adjunct English instructor for fourteen years, and I noticed a list of Humanities Division birthdays posted on a filing cabinet.  My birthday wasn’t on it.  That’s not just an oversight; the list also did not include over eighty other adjuncts in the division, some of whom have worked there longer than me.  While this may seem a trivial slight, such subtle reminders that adjuncts are not really members of the departments they serve are regular signposts in the current academic workplace. Continue reading »