Faculty Blog Round Up: The Mark Taylor Op-Ed

It’s been over a month, and the faculty blogosphere is still buzzing about Mark Taylor’s New York Times editorial “End the University as We Know It.”  That’s not too surprising, since Taylor called for, among other changes, abolishing both departments and tenure.  ACRLog blogger Scott Walter linked to the editorial here right after it was published, but I’d like to highlight some faculty reactions now that bloggers have had a chance to mull it over.

Michael Berube, a literature professor at Penn State, points out at Crooked Timber that it’s one thing to complain about the bureaucracy of departments, but the intellectual rigor of disciplines is a virtue, and Taylor is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Timothy Burke, a history professor at Swarthmore, blogs at Easily Distracted about the need for either some concrete, implementable plans, or a more tentative tone.

And a new group blog in queer studies, the Bully Bloggers, has a series of posts taking issue with the market-based measures Taylor adopts: Jack Halberstam, Eng-Beng Lim, Miranda Joseph, Brian Eugenio Herrera, and Lisa Duggan all participate in this critical dialog.

Jose Marichal, political scientist at California Lutheran, takes a more sympathetic stance towards Taylor, comparing his vision of conceptual problem-focused studies to Web 2.0.

Religion scholar Brad Johnson writes as a colleague of Taylor’s, reading beyond the text of the op-ed to argue (implicitly counter to Berube) that specializations would still thrive in the kind of complex system envisioned by Taylor.

Finally, Peter Levine, philosopher and director of Tufts’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, imagines a college curriculum set up along Taylorist lines with a focus on civic engagment.

Could we create a library for a university as Taylor envisions it?  What about mandatory retirement for librarians?  Are we prepared to catalog and preserve non-traditional dissertations?  How would you develop a collection for cluster of conceptually-based inquiries that shift every seven years?

Author: Laura Wimberley

Laura works at the Medical Center Library at the University of California San Diego. In addition to her MLIS, she also has an MA and PhD in Political Science. Her research interests include information policy, scholarly communication, and collection development. You can read more of her writing at Libri & Libertas (http://librilibertas.blogspot.com/).

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