FUTUREU FORUM: FRIDAY, JUNE 21, “Faculty Perspectives on Campus Protests” with Professors Ruth, Letiecq, and McAfee

Virtual forum broadcast live on YouTube, 12-1:30 pm Eastern/9-10:30 am Pacific, Friday, June 21, 2024 (Link below)  

The subject of campus protests has dominated news cycles across America and worldwide. Despite enormous publicity, campus protests are largely mischaracterized, frequently politicized, and widely misunderstood.

Why are students and others (including faculty) protesting? What do they seek? What represents acceptable boundaries of protest? What should presidents/chancellors do? How should governing boards respond? When is police intervention acceptable (if ever, and how)? What say should large donors have (if any)? When, if at all, should state- and Federal-level legislators get involved?

Those are just a few of the myriad questions that are being asked in higher education and beyond.

While there is (and continues to be) considerable “noise” associated with the responses, what’s generally lacking is a concerted effort to understand what is happening and why, how today’s actions link historically to past protests, and perhaps most importantly, how campus protests can be viewed in terms of the purpose of higher education, including what a college education is for and the role of higher education and democracy in a free society.

We have invited a stellar panel of faculty respondents to share their thoughts about what is happening across the country, what it means, and how to address the complexities.

Jennifer Ruth

Jennifer Ruth is a film professor in the College of Arts at Portland State University and also serves as associate dean of the college. She teaches core courses in film history, theory, and interpretation, as well as topic courses. She is the co-author, with Michael Bérubé, of The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments (2015) and It’s Not Free Speech: Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom (2022). She recently co-edited The Right to Learn: Resisting the Right-Wing Attack on Academic Freedom with Ellen Schrecker and Valerie Johnson (2024). Before moving to the School of Film in 2015, Ruth taught critical theory, cultural studies, and on the Victorian novel in PSUs English department. A member of the AAUP’s Committee A on academic freedom, she writes on higher education issues for AAUP’s Academe Blog, and serves as the publication’s Contributing Editor.

Bethany Letiecq

Bethany Letiecq is an associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, where she specializes in community-based participatory action research approaches and anti-racist research methods in work undertaken in partnership with minoritized and marginalized families. Her publications have appeared in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Family Relations, and Journal of Family Theory and Review, among other outlets. She currently serves as the Vice-President of the GMU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and is also President of the Virginia Conference of the AAUP.

Noëlle McAfee

Noëlle McAfee is a professor and chairperson of philosophy at Emory University and holds a secondary appointment as a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. In addition, she is a faculty member of the Emory University Psychoanalytic Institute, the director of Emory’s Psychoanalytic Studies Program, an affiliate faculty member in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and chairs the Faculty of Psychoanalysis. A critical theorist working in the tradition of the Frankfurt School, in her work she draws on feminist philosophy, psychoanalysis, and political theory. McAfee is the author of over 80 articles/essays and five books, The books include Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis (Columbia, 2019), which won the American Psychoanalytic Association’s 2020 Courage to Dream Book Award; Feminism: A Quick Immersion (Tibidabo Publishing 2021); Democracy and the Political Unconscious (Columbia 2008); Julia Kristeva (Routledge 2004); and Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship (Cornell 2000). Her current research interests are in critical theory, psychoanalysis, feminist philosophy, and political theory. Her commentary, University Presidents Should Study How Democracy Works, was published recently in Scientific American.

Frank A. Fear

Rubén O. Martinez

FutureU’s founder, Rubén O. Martinez (left), a Michigan State University professor and director emeritus of the Julian Samora Research Institute, will co-host today’s Forum. Frank A. Fear, MSU professor and senior associate dean emeritus, who serves as FutureU’s Managing Editor and produces the FutureU video series, will co-host the forum.

You can view the forum live on FutureU’s YouTube Channel or watch the video following the presentation.

(Cover photo courtesy ABC6 Action News, Philadelphia, on protests at the University of Pennsylvania)

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