Well, in a fit of over-enthusiasm that belongs to some sort of undiagnosed workaholicism, and because I think there should be a revolutionary way to remake our universities, I applied for the post of Dean of the new Graduate School at Goldsmiths. I was interviewed on tuedsay, and the SMT have not yet made their decision (SMT= Senior Management Team, a committee name certainly in need of rebranding, if not firebranding). I wait and see, as do the other candidates. Its been interesting discussing with Carrie from Education in the meantime… as we wait. If anything, the circulation of ideas about what Goldsmiths might be/has been useful, so – with all sorts of embarrassment at the shameless self promotional aspects of making applications – I include here the response I made to the SMT request for a “1000 word vision”. Apologies to Peter Sloterdijk and all the other education activist comrades who helped generate this sort of bluster way back when. And sorry for some of the more prosaic quality rhetoric that is now obligatory in the administered society. Those were heady days… From Mark I am reminded of the bit in Adorno that alibis it all:
Whoever makes critically and unflinchingly conscious use of the means of administration and its institutions is still in a position to realize something which would be different from merely administered culture (Adorno 1991 :131)
May 29, 2006
Re John Hutnyk – application for Dean of the Graduate School
My enthusiasm for this post is fundamentally based upon a theoretical, practical and political interest in ways to institute connections between the diverse intellectual elements of the cultural and creative work represented at Goldsmiths. I have a background (see CV) in postgraduate research organisation stemming initially from student activism, followed by policy experience as a researcher-organiser for several Australian postgraduate student organisations (including advise to the peak lobby group CAPA: Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations) and subsequently as an academic, conference organiser, supervisor, researcher, editor and in recent years as the person who revamped PhD provision in the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths (as PhD Convenor and ‘Academic Director’ alongside Professor Lash). My interest in organising as such is complimented by a substantive skill base, and facility for forging new institutional forms of action and engagement across departments, among emergent networks and through co-operative involvement. I would stress that my personal commitment dovetails centrally with the idea of a Graduate School insofar as the questions that have always driven me in my research, teaching and practical work have to do with ways to inspire and co-ordinate disparate but similar creative energies. Goldsmiths offers a fantastic array of intellects, personalities, and genius that will/can/must be organised.
How to do this is an issue of enormous potential and delicacy. In the first three months of this post (and continuing thereafter via a Graduate School Advisory Committee) there will need to be a rolling series of consultations with heads of departments, members of the postgraduate research committee, postgraduate research co-ordinators, GCSU, international office, admissions, web-team, and other relevant units, to further develop a future shape for the Graduate School. While the mandate of the Graduate School should be influenced by these consultations, it is imperative to move forward now and many of the suggestions already offered, and those below, could be implemented at a very early stage. The Goldsmiths’ mission, values, and wider discussions will also be part of an ongoing debate driven by the ideas that were behind the Graduate School plan.
With the ideas in the attached document, I submit my expression of interest in the post of Dean of the Graduate School. I affirm my longstanding concern, professionally and intellectually, with the core practices that would make the Graduate School a success. My commitment to the Centre for Cultural Studies can be confirmed by any of the (50+) PhD students in the Centre who would readily attest to the success of that programme; I would now like to bring my experience into a wider format as I see this post as complimentary to what I do best in CCS, and also as constituting a logical extension of my career. I would very much like the opportunity to elaborate upon all these points in discussion with the selection committee.
Dr John Hutnyk CCS
The Graduate School at Goldsmiths.
A place of progressive thinking, practice, research and activity…
The Graduate School of Goldsmiths is a great idea. It can unify the inspirational and rampantly creative conglomeration of people and projects that inhabit the New Cross campus. It will allow us to further focus our postgraduate and research mission, and allow us to promote ourselves coherently and visibly in the national and international public eye. Consolidation of our existing strengths in an identifiable (branded?) identity will have obvious benefits in terms of academic standing, recruitment, and a sustained reputation – a strong Graduate School at Goldsmiths can secure long-term intellectual identification of/with Goldsmiths (we are not just a teaching factory, but must position ourselves as a permanent intellectual home for students, alumni and staff).
Goldsmiths is already an excellent atmosphere in which to pursue advanced research, with enthusiastic students and dedicated staff. What we need to do now is two-fold – to consolidate Goldsmiths’ reputation as an environment for graduate research with an open engaging structure, with excellent institutional support (buildings, procedures, formal and social action), and to coherently promote Goldsmiths as a serious and sophisticated, cutting edge, intellectually driven, world-class scholarly milieu. What we need most perhaps is a new catalyst with which to advance what is best about Goldsmiths as a significant and dynamic place for graduate research (and we do desperately need to deal with some infrastructural limitations, provide a physical presence, enhance library resources, etc).
A place of scholarship and excellence, expression, diversity and commitment…
It must be admitted that the Graduate school would serve competing tendencies.
What we might consider for the Graduate School is a structure and a space that provides the solid, reassuring, competent and institutionally secure environment that facilitates the best of scholarship in the university tradition, provides connections and support for research careers, training and progress, AND at the same time offers a haven for an uninhibited intelligence, where ideas and motivation can thrive, in an environment that is more than just cramming, training and protocol. A social environment with a serious intellectual and inspirational focus, a place of ideas.
As Dean, I propose to work towards a Graduate School that provides support for research culture and research students. I see the Graduate School becoming an attractive, strategic, local, national and international draw card, complimenting departmental research cultures, and fostering Goldsmiths’ inherent, but often incipient, interdisciplinarity. The Graduate School would seek to develop:
- Refined codes of practice, regulations reviews, monitoring; development of research students/supervisor guidelines and review of all published documentation; clarify lines of support for postgraduate inquiry, problem solving, day-to-day focus;
- Targeted and stimulating training framework, skills and academic development, dedicated career advice for research degree students; fostering entry into scholarly community (and into other professions);
- Quality assurance, accountability, democracy, transparency; commitment to independence of thought, open exchange of ideas; debate;
- Scholarships and bursaries; dedicated support for staff to include research fellowships in their grants; develop links with Max Planck, Clore, India PMI and UKIERI funding schemes,
- European and other initiatives to secure resources for postgraduates from home and overseas;
- Close links with the International Office, Admissions, Student Records, Student Support, the GCSU (promote idea of a Graduate Officer), web-team, and other Goldsmiths administrative units; work towards coherence of MA programmes and plans for MA and PGSE involvement in graduate School;
- A series of high profile Graduate School workshops with leading intellectuals in various fields (see below); a named list of Graduate School Associate Faculty (from the departments) to give profile and standing;
- A Graduate School lecture series, possibly co-ordinated with Inaugural Lectures; Graduate Summer Schools; International visits, liaison, collaboration on the Frankfurt/Copenhagen (and future India, China) models;
- Dedicated advanced publishing and publications support for students, including web publishing, blogs, podcasting and possibly through a new Postgraduate Hallmark (with a more dynamic newspaper style design) and;
- A spectacular new Graduate School publication (see below)
A place of ideas and inspiration, public and private…
I propose a Graduate School that is formal and mature, scholarly and prestigious, which will also make space for speculation and the flash of insight. In various disciplines, a doubled (and multiple, even dialectical) configuration has long been recognised. I propose making multiplicity a key metaphor for initiating a series of workshops to establish the Graduate School first and foremost as a forum of exciting and expressive thinking. For example: through a series of cross-theme interdisciplinary workshops (perhaps five events in the first year, with published proceedings in a newspaper and/or web format): an invited international speaker would give a public GS lecture and spend two or more days in workshops listening to and commenting on graduate research presentations, thus combining public profile with intensive advanced teaching. These events could be written up, linked to publications in newsletter or in more ambitious formats (see below). These workshops would thereby have public promotional and internal pedagogic dimensions. They might be initiated through joint proposals from two or more departments of the college at a time, but opened to the entire GS, for example:
there might be a suggestion from Anthropology and English for a reflection of the importance of ‘non’-anthropologists to the traditions of cultural commentary evaluating the popularity of William Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula Le Guin, Peter Carey, Will Self;
or perhaps from Design and Visual Cultures, a practically informed critique, and exhibition, of the role of Dada and Surrealism as conduit of radical thinking and of creeping commercialisation;
from CUCR and Computing the importance of rhetorical flair, numeracy and repetitive/econometric tropes for the literature of world bank policy documents;
from Politics and Psychology, the articulation of problematics party politics and promotion with the sloganeering of ‘the personal is political’, through feminism, psychoanalysis and self-help literatures…
from the Screen School, CCS and Music, a workshop on ways to radically re-invent Music – television (with spin-off development to rival MTV.
There are many possibilities and these are not at all the most original ones that could be imagined, but rather are simple speculative illustrations to be replaced by negotiated and developed ideas sought through a call for proposals to the departments and graduate students. Funding for such initiatives would be paramount, with some college funds and outside sources tapped as needed.
A spectacular new Graduate School publication to make Goldsmiths Research visible, voluble and shining in the public eye…
Goldsmiths must remain a leader in its fields and to this end the college needs a flagship scholarly publication. This publication must rival surpass international benchmarks and serve as a key identifier of the College. For comparisons sake we might think of the impact that ZKM publications have had for the Karlsruhe Centre for Art and Media Technology; the ZONE books series; Semiotexte and Autonomedia; the MIT Press (indeed, we might work towards a book series through a prominent publisher – Polity or Pluto would be interested). This publication could carry short articles by the many prominent visitors and associates of Goldsmiths, and it could showcase Graduate Student and Staff research, writing, photography, innovative work of all kinds. It would have very high end printing ideals and sophisticated, stylised lay-out. It would become the flagship publication of the Graduate School, and perhaps of the College. It would be a must have item on every thinking persons coffee table – the critical glossy of all glossies. We might call it “Scribble” or some other reference to the idea of making visible the diverse creative and critical activities that go on in postgraduate research at Goldsmiths every day behind many doors, inside many lecture and seminar rooms. We have suffered without such a flagship publication – the award winning College prospectus and the (frankly quite tame) mid-1990s history of the College can only do so much – we need a dynamic, new, and HOT HOT HOT publication.
This publication would require participation by a number of parts of the College, to be co-ordinated by the Dean and others recruited to the editorial team:
Editorial Committee (staff and students, relevant College units)
Designer (cutting edge, key input from students)
Commissioning co-editors (Dean plus student for training experience)
Referees (high standards)
Publisher (high production values)
Distribution (global, a key promotional device for the Graduate School)
Finally, a Graduate School Dean fit for purpose…
John Hutnyk May 2006
OK, that’s it. A bit over the top, but something that can be renegotiated into a Goldsmiths five year plan that might be bareable. To include a slick new renovated premises (I can see a building across the way that would be fine) a cafe with good coffee and food, conference centre, seminar and study rooms, corrals, lounges, couches, and an intelligent life. Something that we almost have, but not quite, and are always in danger of wrecking, if its not already gone.
The first pic (at teh top) is nicked from the pure and applied site – a business network, consultancy and training initiative – a “spin-out company, to handle all the commercial activity within the university”. This site is one that I only just discovered today (sort of keeping it quiet?, or Goldsmiths is just way to big?). I’ll comment more on these corporate-university spin-offs later, having written on these for Nettime (in the Nettime Reader [downloadable here]) and The Assembly, and elsewhere on think tanks. Its lovely to see all those ‘incubaton’ metaphors still thriving. Stop and stare: Pure and Applied – http://www.puregoldsmiths.com/pureapp/index.html
The second pic (just above) offers an opportunity to ‘meet socialist studetns’ – I guess the swampies keep them locked up the rest of the time. Hope to see em more often.