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William Hart-Davidson | “Creativity is Not Zero Sum, or How Future Perfect Thinking Might Make a More Humane Academy”

Event Type
Sponsored by the Interseminars Working Group and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities
Levis Faculty Center, Room 422
Apr 23, 2019   11:00 am - 12:15 pm  
William Hart-Davidson (Michigan State)
Originating Calendar
Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH)

This talk will prompt discussion of a holistic approach to faculty development grounded in Iris Marion Young's critique of distributive justice - in a nutshell, the way we unnecessarily ration non-finite social goods to construct and/or maintain oppressive hierarchies. Hart-Davidson believes this applies in higher education where the ends toward which we all work in public research universities are all non-finite: knowledge, understanding, inspiration, and even reputation. It is also true of the ends we claim as part of our public mission: health, inclusion, sustainability, democratic participation in society, etc. Despite this, we arrange our evaluation systems in higher education to sort and rank - both at the institutional and individual level - and when we do we put ourselves in the position of measuring our success by counting means rather than evaluating ends, creating false scarcity and anxiety.

Here, Hart-Davidson would like to ask a question that might lead us down another path: what would a career-oriented evaluation approach look like if we measured those things that matter most at the end of a career - the kinds of things we talk about in folks' retirement encomia - right from the beginning?

William Hart-Davidson is Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures and Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Education in the College of Arts & Letters, Michigan State University.

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