Initiatives

Tenure for the Common Good meets in person and online to discuss ways we can get institutions to pay their instructors a living wage and treat them with dignity and professionalism. Our initiatives have included a wide range of activities:

  • we offered a roundtable and workshop at the 2018 and 2020 MLA conventions
  • we wrote a petition to reform the US News and World Report rankings to reflect the casualization of academic labor. The petition drive collected well over a thousand signatures from colleagues in many disciplines across the nation.
  • we met with the data team led by Robert Morse at US News and World Report to emphasize the need to update their ranking data to more accurately reflect the current state of academic work
  • we wrote an article in Profession, “Common Good, Not Common Despair,” describing our work: https://profession.mla.org/common-good-not-common-despair/
  • we met with Paula Krebs, Executive Director of the MLA, to discuss ways that the MLA can help, and jointly developed a plan to train external reviewers to assess institutions’ treatment of contingent faculty.

Right now we are developing ideas for new projects, and we look to our members to help us figure out how to make them work or inspire us to start other initiatives. Some items on our agenda include:

  • advocating for a Fair Labor Seal for academia, something that would confirm that institutions awarded the seal adhered to basic standards of good labor practices in hiring and employment. We were inspired by Alissa Quart’s call: (https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/nov/27/professors-are-selling-their-plasma-to-pay-bills-lets-hold-colleges-feet-to-the-fire?CMP=share_btn_tw) but we are now thinking of making this a kind of prize for which institutions would compete or a designation for which they could apply; the Fair Labor Seal board would judge their applications.
  • hosting The Fair Labor Seal initiative at The Center for the Study of Academic Labor at Colorado State University (https://csal.colostate.edu/). This institutional home will give us the infrastructure and administrative continuity to make sure the program is stable.
  • working with partners to develop a nonprofit academic consultancy service that can advise administrators on fair academic labor practices.

If these projects seem worthwhile to you, or if you can think of other work we could do to support our contingent colleagues, please contact us at mail@tenureforthecommongood.org.