another day, another fun-filled survey

and at some point I will actually get to see more of the UBC Medieval Workshop! My main impediment hasn’t been completing surveys; it’s been the unfortunate conflict with teaching and meetings. But these have all been fine; I’m not complaining.

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First, the fun stuff. The Medieval Workshop. If you’re in the area, or anywhere nearby and looking for some sentence and solaas tomorrow, why not try this for size:

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Here’s what’s happening tomorrow:

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Setting the scene, here is the background to today’s formulaire du jour :

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 5.37.37 PMFair enough. And it was good survey form thingie. It was actually rather fun. Mostly. Even the ranty bits, which were all self-inflicted and my own fault. Brownie points to the survey-makers for giving ranters like me pretty liberal free-rein opportunities. This is when I also realise that I’ve left about a bazillion typos and have composed pseudo-sentences that are telegraphic in style to the point, or ratherm the sublime liminal zone, of mystical transcendence and deconstructive hyperambiguous nonsense:
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Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 5.35.04 PMScreen Shot 2014-11-07 at 5.27.07 PMI should add that item 2 above is partly because of the freezing of faculty hires (which may or may not impact promotions, depending) and a 3% budget cut imposed from The Outsiders Above. This was supposed to be a cut to university general expenditure and especially to ADMINISTRATIVE BLOAT. It seems to have been translated, in practical terms, to cutting funding to teaching and front-line activities at, erm, what is after all supposed to be a “university.” Administrative areas seem to have increased: ex. make-work projects replacing IT management systems, paying lots of money for a tailored version of Blackboard rather than going free and open with Moodle or, indeed, Sakai (with which UBC worked interestingly and innovatively in the past; but that is past history, and was free and open so not interested in making money, and as innovation only counts if it makes money, this doesn’t count… and references to this past work are progressively being erased).

Here’s who currently owns Blackboard, and thus who we’re in bed with and whose pocket we’re in:

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“Leveraged buyout transactions” indeed. But it’s OK, they’re Responsible:

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We strive to ensure that our investors, employees, portfolio companies and all parties with whom we do business can rely on us to operate in a responsible and ethical manner. We have a deep commitment to professionalism, fairness and integrity in all of our business dealings.

See, there’s lots of equity, but the main “e-” word I would tend to look for, “ethics,” only appears once, in the excerpt above; in phrasing which doesn’t actually state “we are ethical,” actively. Rather like cosmetic companies fudging on animal testing: “we are against animal testing” doesn’t mean “we don’t do it.” And just like cosmetics companies, the get-out clause is “where required to do so by law” (emphases below mine):

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And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a case in point for why LANGUAGE AND KNOWING, LEARNING, AND TEACHING ABOUT IT ARE GOOD AND IMPORTANT.

Ethics = “environmental, health, safety, labor, governance and social issues.” And issues are problems, impediments, obstacles. They’re neither good nor happy and harmonious. They’re bad, unless and except when they coincide with “growth and maximizing returns for our investors.” If that doesn’t happen, Blackboard gets sold. Who suffers? Students. Faculty too, but the principal beneficiaries here are students. Who has no say in the matter? You guessed it: all of the above.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the model–in everything from lexis to rhetoric to organization and politics–that we should be seeking to emulate. Slavishly, whilst of course also Seeking to Develop Ourselves as Leaders. UBC is very big on “leadership.” Too many people have been reading too many self-help manuals. Too few have been reading the original and best ones, like Boethius’s Consolation. And far too few have any awareness of leadership-culture being far from a given Good. “Leader/~ship” is a negatively-loaded term and a political problem. Macho cut-throat “free” competition is fundamentally patriarchal and antifeminist, an undemocratic dismissal of rights of and responsibilities for minorities, intersectionally unjust, and potentially totalitarian.

But I digress. Back to our form. For there was a happy ending:
Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 5.36.57 PMIII. AFTERS

Final part of this short post: the sweet part. What happens when you perform a Google image-search for “medieval collegiality?” Well, here are some of the more useful and pertinent results:

 Networks and Knowledge: Synthesis and Innovation in the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Medieval Mediterranean NEH Summer Institute for College and University Professors July 2–July 27, 2012 • Barcelona (Spain)

July 2–July 27, 2012 • Barcelona (Spain)

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Continuing our ecocritical theme, this beauty from rather far down the search-results:

yes, you're absolutely right: who else would this be but

yes, you’re absolutely right: who else would this be but “Got Medieval”?

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Mkay… amusing, given that many of the first images are quite the contrary:

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like these

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and so forth and so on. A while later, the eye is drawn to this:

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And then this, that I approve of whole-heartedly, a fine upstanding model to us all:

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The very last image is one of the most fitting in what I’d thought of, when first performing the search, as an expected way. Peers + shared food + chat. It’s as Medieval as the vegetables higher up: totally Medieval for some parts of the world, not for others. Medieval isn’t just Europe.

So: ending on a happy hearty collegial note:

Plymouth State University (NH, USA), chili cook-off. (Click image/link, you'll see why this image appears in a search...)

Plymouth State University (NH, USA), chili cook-off. (Click image/link, you’ll see why this image appears in a “medieval collegiality” search…)

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