This book is timely and interesting--Read the full article here.
‘The Adjunct Underclass’
Herb Childress's new book is a painful, necessary read for anyone looking to understand or empathize with the costs -- human and otherwise -- of higher ed's gig economy.
By Colleen Flaherty
April 16, 2019
The human costs of academe’s festering adjunct problem tend to get lost against the scale of it. We know that the contracting higher education job market entails suffering. But what can be done when, by some estimates, 70 percent of professors are part-time? Every once in a while, though, a human take on the adjunct issue cuts through the collective too-big-to-fix mentality. The Atlantic’s recent piece on the late historian Thea Hunter, “The Death of an Adjunct,” is one such take. Herb Childress’s new book, The Adjunct Underclass: How America’s Colleges Betrayed Their Faculty, Their Students and Their Mission (University of Chicago Press), is another.
Through interviews with adjuncts and his own story of working off the tenure track, Childress describes what happens not just to academics’ careers and teaching bandwidth but to their souls when they become workers in the academic pin factory. It’s not pretty. Among other analogies, Childress compares the dynamic to an abusive relationship, where dysfunction becomes the norm but the damage builds too often to breaking.
Still, it would be a mistake to describe Childress’s book as about human costs only. Part memoir, part manifesto, it’s also a rigorous, data-driven analysis of how we got here, why adjunctification hurts the academic enterprise and possible solutions. There’s a full appendix of charts, facts and figures. The mix makes for a book that anyone, novice to expert, can read.
Childress, who also wrote 2016’s The PhDictionary: A Glossary of Things You Don’t Know (but Should) About Doctoral and Faculty Life, recently participated in a Q&A with Inside Higher Ed. Read the full article here.