The first book review is here!
The first review of my book Creative Universities has come out. Earlier this month the LSE Review of Books published a very positive review by David Hayes at Blackpool and The Fylde College. David's research interests include political philosophy, critical ethnography and critical pedagogy. He is an affiliate of the Centre for Educational Research (CERES) Group at Liverpool John Moores University and a member of the Utopian Studies Society, an international, interdisciplinary society for the study of utopianism. David's review presents a really interesting anarchist-Marxist reading of my book. Below are some highlights from the review, which has also been reposted in the LSE Impact blog. You can read the whole review here. Thank you David.
Anke Schwittay’s Creative Universities is a very welcome and timely contribution to existing critical pedagogical scholarship and literature. It not only provides an interdisciplinary critique of the existing institutional and epistemic boundaries of the contemporary neoliberalised university and its corporate-managerialist conception of creativity. It also offers imaginative strategies for counter-hegemonic resistance and radical change in education and society. [...]
The specific strength of the book is its adventurous and experimental interdisciplinary scope, which should resonate with educational practitioners and researchers engaged in social scientific ‘rendezvous disciplines’: places where ideas from a range of disciplines meet and interface, such as contemporary critical criminology and critical pedagogy. Creative Universities recognises the politicised nature of education and the need to articulate counter-hegemonic narratives and discourses that challenge the instrumentalisation and commodification of knowledge, teaching, learning and research. [...]
Though not explicitly stated, the book can be seen to be informed by an anarchist perspective on education in that it seeks to address existing power relations, hierarchical structures and relationships, and develop emancipatory alternative futures based on social and ecological justice. Creative Universities would be well worth reading in conjunction with Judith Suissa’s Anarchism and Education, as Schwittay’s concept of ‘whole-person learning’ can mutually inform and support Suissa’s notion of ‘integral education’, which challenges the academic-vocational dichotomy that persists in universities. [...]
What is galvanising for the reader is that this negation of the existing order is allied with a progressive vision of students as dialogical and relational co-producers of intersubjectively generated knowledge, ethics and practice. A spirit of mutual aid, benevolence and social cooperation pervades Schwittay’s militantly optimistic and pragmatic book. The call is for developing students as global citizens and activists, imbued with both a responsibility to otherness, which follows from the relational character of the self and is based on the notion of the subject as constituted by its relationship to the other, and a responsibility to act. [...]
In terms of resisting the marketisation and corporatisation of education, Schwittay offers hope for those confronted by the inexorable and increasingly virulent neoliberal juggernaut and its colonisation of the lifeworld of universities. The author addresses the ideological dominance and one-dimensional economic rationality of the business model of education, with its managerial culture, privileging of STEM subjects and increasing vocationalisation of the curriculum. [...]
Schwittay demonstrates how methodologies and practices that are usually found in the arts can be creatively and imaginatively transposed to social science disciplines – trans-disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity can be seen as the guiding philosophy informing the argument. Neoliberal ‘restructuring’ in universities is often accompanied by the message of ‘synergy’ as an ideological justification for dissolving departments and merging disciplinary fields, which merely serves to separate and divide disciplines that would otherwise have the potential for meaningful, collaborative work. The author illustrates the rich potential of these collaborations by providing the historical example of the Bauhaus design school as a model for participatory pedagogy that offers an anticipatory illumination or prefiguration of cooperative communities of knowledge and practice.
Education in Western universities stands at a crossroads – Schwittay’s timely and much-needed book is an antidote to the challenges of our times and offers a critical-creative-imaginative manifesto for alternative educational and social futures.