A Contribution to the Critique of the Exciting New Grad School

[UPDATE on Thursday, August 29: In the comments, we ask Patrick Provost-Smith about the GCAS’s connection to the Whitestone Foundation. Through internet searching, we had come to believe that the name referred to this rather alarming organization. As it turns out, it is actually this organization, which is run by Carl Raschke and closely associated with the JCRT.]

It should be clear to my Twitter followers that I’m deeply skeptical of the nascent Global Center for Advanced Studied headed up by Creston Davis and Patrick Provost-Smith [UPDATE: Provost-Smith has announced he’s withdrawing from this effort]. It seems to me to be a repetition of the model of the long-standing European Graduate School, except located in the U.S. — and I’m just not sure how a celebrity-driven institution with very minimal full-time faculty counts as an alternative to neoliberal education. Indeed, it seems likely that one of the primary concrete achievements of the institution will be, as in the case of the EGS, to provide YouTube videos of lectures, i.e., it will almost literally be a MOOC provider. And really, there’s no harm and considerable good in providing YouTube videos of lectures for public consumption — the problem, as with MOOCs, is putting that forward as an alternative to in-person education.

What strikes me about the response to the school so far is how infatuated people are with the sheer potentiality. The school’s website itself makes liberal use of the present tense, and its fans and “faculty” fall into similar grammatical patterns. It is an alternative to the corporate university. It is subverting that corrupt model with something radically different. It is the kind of place where someone uncomfortable with actual-existing academic institutions can find a home, finally!

It may yet turn out to be all of those things. I don’t expect it to, but it may. What’s more interesting to me than the concrete probability of the school’s success is what it shows about the present academic scene: people are obviously deeply hungry for an alternative, any alternative. This holds for people who have been marginalized or excluded by existing institutions, for people who have purposefully struck out on their own path apart from those institutions, and for people who have been quite successful in traditional academic careers. The fact that so much hope can attach to an institution that is currently, so far as I can see, little more than a website seems to me to show a deeper hopelessness: the current system can’t be salvaged, at all. There are no spaces available for something genuinely different, and so we need to start from scratch.

It may be that I’m a total sell-out who wants to maintain my privileges, but I see things differently — and I think that’s in part because I have managed to chart a path through existing institutions that manage to be a concrete, actual-existing alternative to the neoliberal way. Chicago Theological Seminary and Shimer College are both institutions that I believe in, very deeply, and they both need and deserve support and defense from the academic community at large. Neither is perfect, and both have to make unavoidable compromises with the powers that be — but both work hard to provide a distinctly different kind of education that forms whole people. And it is really hard work to keep institutions like that going, which may be why the enthusiasm for the GCAS has been so frustrating to me (though I’ve expressed myself mainly through irony rather than anger).

The notion that a couple guys can come out of nowhere and totally revolutionize hitherto existing education just is the neoliberal approach to education. In reality, there is no need for a radical new model. We know exactly what we need to do: we need small classes, with deeply invested faculty members, allowing for the development of long-term pedagogical relationships characterized by trust and mutual respect. We need to create a space where people can talk seriously about good books and work together on concrete problems. We need an atmosphere of shared inquiry among equals — just the opposite of a seminar made up of star-struck grad students soaking up the wisdom of an academic “luminary.”

It’s hard to create such spaces in existing academic institutions, but I don’t know what other circumstances are going to be more favorable. This may be a failure of imagination on my part, but I think that viewing something like the GCAS as a genuine alternative is an even greater failure of imagination.

200 Responses to “A Contribution to the Critique of the Exciting New Grad School”

  1. Daniel Tutt Says:

    As a student at EGS, I have a few problems with some of the ways you frame EGS, particularly as a big MOOC provider. You neglect to mention the great value of philosophers coming together for productive exchange amongst themselves, students, and a public community. This is something that sets EGS apart from so many American universities, mainly the fact that many of the faculty refuse to participate in American academic environments – here I am thinking of Agamben mainly, but there are plenty of others.

    You also assume that the model is one where students who have struck out in the larger academic space can find a sort of utopian answer. Sure, this happens, but so what? Why would you oppose this? I see that you want to encourage people to imagine within the confines of the corporate, public and private universities as they are now. Well, that’s great, but it’s really, really hard to get excited about finding the space to experience the sorts of niches that you have experienced. That’s not to say that people are giving up doing that within the traditional university, just because they are excited about the GCAS model.

    I can tell you that many of the students that are attracted to this model of pedagogy and education in fact themselves are professors or they are affiliated with other universities, some are not, but many are.

    You also make the assumption that to study with the ‘big names’ implies that the student is as you say, a “star-struck grad student soaking up the wisdom of an academic “luminary.” This again is pretty cynical and not grounded in the truth of my own experience, and the experience of many of my peers.

    What about honest questioning from the source? Is there not some value to be found in that? I claim that it is possible to study with the big names and not treat them like luminaries or superstars, and that this desire is a positive desire, it is one that should be celebrated – I mean why do you think they have all said yes to joining the GCAS anyways?

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I never said the model was for people who had struck out and were seeking a utopian answer — I say explicitly that the model has appealed to people with a very wide range of experience in academia, including traditional success.

  3. Daniel Tutt Says:

    I just wonder why we can’t strengthen both of the pedagogical models. I have participated in both models, and frankly, I rely on both models as a student. Working with a professor who is basically a reading group leader, and also working with the philosophers that we are reading – from the source – that’s something that we can all get behind! Why must these two models be mutually exclusive to one another? (I am not suggesting that you are necessarily saying that, it just feels that way).

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Public lectures are great. I love them. I would never want to get rid of them. They’re not the best pedagogical model for deep and enduring learning, however. The reading group model is clearly superior and should be primary.

  5. Adam Kotsko Says:

    It seems as though you are feeling defensive about my comments on EGS and that you have accordingly exaggerated my claims to be more extreme than they are.

  6. Daniel Tutt Says:

    I did not intend to exaggerate your claims. Yes, the comment you made in the original post about grad students being star struck was a bit offensive, in that it was a generalization. I do think you make great points in this post. To be clear, the EGS model is not just a ‘lecture’. It is a series of two week seminars from one philosopher each giving a seminar during a two week period – that’s 6 – 8 hours a day of seminars, with extensive time for Q and A with him or her on top of class discussion.

    You are right that the model of sustained reading groups and so on is absolutely a good approach, but why can’t the EGS model be a supplement to that model? That’s all I am saying.

  7. Adam Kotsko Says:

    It could be a supplement, yes. And if the GCAS really succeeds in putting together good short-term seminars, that’s great. Except as far as I can understand, the EGS and GCAS are both putting forth this “supplement” as the main thing, right?

    Just a warning: if you use a variant of “why can’t it be both” in your next response, I will literally scream myself to death.

  8. Daniel Tutt Says:

    No, I am glad that you’re writing critically about this new venture – I think one of the things that indicates its hopelessness in the current academic space is because it is started by humanities academics, and not administrators. I think there is a sense in which any semblance of structural change is now impossible because administrators have literally taken over – mystifying us all in how we might develop a strengthened role for change within the academic system.

    No, as far as I know, EGS/GCAS are not putting their pedagogical model forward as the ‘main thing’ – they fully try to partner with other universities to bring students in who are also working in the traditional spaces you work in.

  9. Craig McFarlane Says:

    Just noting in passing that EGS charges $20,950 in tuition for a MA degree and $24,450 in tuition for a PhD degree. I could be wrong–the site is terribly organized–but there are no internal scholarships and EGS seems to recommend a combination of loans, grants and scholarships to fund your tuition (and living and travel expenses which are on top of this). (EGS also seems to think that Alberta is in the United States, but then, maybe it is.) While financial assistance from public universities dreadful and often involves performing highly exploitative labour, I don’t see how EGS and, by extension, GCAS resist the model of graduate education which says, in essence, “If you want to do a PhD, you better be born rich or willing to take on crippling debt.” Indeed, EGS, at least, qualifies for US federal assistance whereas there is no reason to believe that GCAS will qualify for such in the foreseeable future. All said, the more accurate comparison isn’t to EGS, but that silly college invented by AC Grayling. I’d be curious to know if any of the faculty and supporters of GCAS derided Grayling’s college and how they imagine theirs to be less cynical.

  10. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    I like that people are “joining faculty” and are all “professors” (wouldn’t it be interesting to leave the institutional designations altogether?) – Who is going to pay their salaries? They are basically volunteers who will do some public lectures for free. How exactly is this going to revolutionize anything? They are still dependent on “corporatist” institutions for their salaries and benefits. The idea that a couple of guys can rent a warehouse in Denver and change the world is appealing, but it’s just not going to happen. I’m not even going to qualify it as “maybe it will, maybe I’m wrong” a la Adam…

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  12. John C Says:

    Daniel, I think the main issue people have with the EGS is the cost. I believe continental philosophy for rich american kids is basically how most people view it (rightly or wrongly). I actually quite like their model. There are few places you are going to find Badiou and Zizek and the likes giving students that kind of direct attention, but in terms of shaking things up – which I think we all know is required – it does not quite cut it.

  13. Daniel Tutt Says:

    Since EGS opened up financial aid to American students, the opposite is the case – EGS is continental philosophy for a much wider sort of student body than American rich kids. Many people get second PhD’s there, a lot are non-traditional, many are artists, and so on. But I can see why there exists this view, I’m just saying it’s really not accurate.

  14. Steven Shaviro Says:

    Thanks for these comments. I really don’t think that an institution whose entire program consists in superstar academics getting ridiculous sums of cash in return for showing up somewhere for a few days is a solution to anything. (Though obviously you can consider this sour grapes if you want. Nobody has ever offered me $17,000 for three days’ work; I guess I am not famous enough for that).

  15. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Daniel,
    I can see you are very protective of EGS and I have other friends who are as well. I have some real qualms about EGS and always have, but that’s not really what I think is being discussed here. So let’s set it aside. I guess I am surprised though that much of what is being raised here isn’t addressed at all. Why the ridiculous claims on the new school’s website (a school which has changed name five times since it was first floated publicly a few weeks ago)? Why are they in the present tense when nothing, absolutely nothing, has been produced thus far to support these ridiculous claims? Of course, since many people know about this, since I was threatened with a lawsuit for raising questions about the claims to be accredited I can’t take seriously the claims to revolutionary transparency that Creston claimed in posts (now deleted). But you can’t simultaneously claim to be revolutionary and beyond the university system, while still relying on the same debt structure for tuition (financial aid = student loans, we all know that) and the traditional university to pay these “faculty” their actual salary. I can’t imagine anyone is really looking at this as their real faculty post, in terms of commitment.

    But I, unlike Adam, do not really see the value of a school whose entire existence is predicated on these one-week seminars. I know that people claim access to the “great names” is the reason this is important, but I’ve found they generally respond to email and I can’t imagine that people are getting anywhere near the level of supervision you do in more traditional programs. That seems rather stark to me.

    Isn’t the clear answer a traditional university with direct faculty control? Adam already said that, but it seems the real challenge. The famous thinker model… just doesn’t seem like much but a marketing model to me. Someone asked where the antagonism came from and if I’m honest it comes from being presented with this model as “revolutionary” when it has failed to actual do anything yet. When that is coupled with attacks against my profession, with claims about being comfortable academics not being able to face the true revolution of the Idea, well then it is just ridiculous. I don’t teach graduate students, I teach undergraduates. Many of whom don’t see the reason for an education in the humanities and I have to spend a lot of time with them to convince them of that value while also teaching them the skills they need to confront the world. That takes a lot more than a week seminar and providing that education to students who can’t afford it takes a lot more than access to student loans.

  16. Daniel Tutt Says:

    Anthony,
    As I mentioned ad nauseum (sorry, Adam) I actually think that the EGS model alone is not productive for grad students, it should be ideally complemented with a traditional university setting that goes throughout the year. The fact that the financial set up of EGS is expensive is certainly a problem. I only claim that my experiences in this model of education have been positive and rewarding for me. I don’t purport that it is revolutionizing neoliberal education, nor that it should replace the traditional models – but with such few funding opportunities for grad students in philosophy programs, EGS is an excellent opportunity, and on the other side, it’s good for people that desire to study with the philosophers they are working on. This is what drew me to EGS.

    Did you mean that the big names don’t respond to emails? That’s true, they don’t respond to emails, and the issue of supervision is a problem, although, you do have the ability to get several advisors and there are some who are very responsive and good, so it’s not all that bad.

    I am involved with helping the GCAS get off the ground, but I can’t speak to the issues of transparency and the other points you raise. I will say that one of my personal goals is to encourage that the institution not go in the direction of EGS in terms of its management, which is really a Stailin-like approach. This is common with a non-administrative institution – it leads to a situation where one person becomes the sole decider, and the sole person able to get things done, etc. This is not the way that GCAS should go – I am not saying that it will, I’m just saying that it is a tendency these sorts of programs gravitate towards.

  17. Adam Kotsko Says:

    He literally said that they do respond to e-mail. Jesus, please read more carefully!

  18. Daniel Tutt Says:

    Thanks, Adam. I did read it carefully, which is why I asked, because Anthony writes:

    “I know that people claim access to the “great names” is the reason this is important, but I’ve found they generally respond to email and I can’t imagine that people are getting anywhere near the level of supervision you do in more traditional programs. That seems rather stark to me.”

    So to me it doesn’t make sense that they respond to email but are also not providing good supervision. This is why I asked if Anthony meant that they “don’t respond to emails.”

  19. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    How in the world could people afford to do EGS and a traditional program?! Even with full-funding and a stipend at the traditional place?

    And, yes, I said that they do respond to emails. Access isn’t worth the price tag, to my mind. I just did a week in Pittsburgh with Jason Wirth and Iain Hamilton Grant and it cost $125. It was a great seminar, but it cost $125 (again)!

  20. Daniel Tutt Says:

    Great, I totally get your criticism now, but I hope that you can see how it wasn’t clear to me when you say they respond to emails and then you say supervision is a problem in the same sentence. Those are two different points: access and supervision. Now I get what you’re saying.

    EGS has created some partnerships with other grad programs to send students to EGS – that’s how they afford it. If this model could be made more affordable that would be incredible. In its current format, it is flawed, I agree with you.

  21. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    They respond to emails. Which is about all they would do as supervisors anyway. Was my point. But, I am sorry for the confusion.

    I mean what does that mean though? Sending students to EGS, that is. DePaul will help students go to the collegium phaenomenologicum, but I don’t know if this is a “partnership”. I guess this strange use of highly specific language is also a bit confusing for me.

  22. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Just seeing your earlier response now, Daniel. When you write, “So to me it doesn’t make sense that they respond to email but are also not providing good supervision” I can’t help but despair a little. Good supervision is way beyond just answering emails, that was my point.

  23. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Maybe Daniel should give others more of a chance to talk.

  24. Daniel Tutt Says:

    I agree of course that supervision is more than responding to emails. At EGS, there are some professors who do more than electronic exchange, there are some that you can meet with, but you have to go to them, some of my friends when doing their EGS dissertation lived in Paris to have frequent access to Badiou for example. RE: partnership; what, are you interested in signing DePaul up? Just kidding!

    No, I really don’t know exactly which schools or departments have done this, but there are a few examples of this being done with various comp lit departments and philosophy departments.

  25. Daniel Tutt Says:

    Ok, I am done.

  26. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    The idea that education consists of lectures (by small names or large names, does not matter) is far from revolutionary (and actually underlies all that talk of MOOCs – if teaching is just talking, why not record that talking and use over and over again?) – I think if they proposed that Zizek would come to my house and stay for a couple of months mentoring me through Hegel, then that’s a revolution. With so much information available in the forms of books/videos does the direct access to the body of the “celebrity” really that innovative (or essential for learning)? It’s basically like going to see your favorite band – you know their tunes by heart, but you still want to go see them play. How is that so revolutionary? Does anyone really expect Zizek to do any “new material”?

  27. Brennan Breed Says:

    Anthony, you were threatened with a lawsuit for asking about the accreditation of the new Graduate School thing? Isn’t that the point of accreditation — that you produce proof of it whenever people ask for it, kind of like a driver’s license? I’m oddly fascinated by this “new” school. Almost like it could be a reality TV-level entertainment for academics.

  28. crestondavis Says:

    This is a very productive conversation, and please allow me a moment to clarify. We changed our name once to reflect new alignments that came together after our first name came out and before our current name CGSA emerged. This was done in consultation with other institutions around the world to reflect a material way in which we will and are (present tense) functioning. With regards to tense–it is right to use the present tense if only because the birth of a venture like this is one that is changing how learning is done as a concrete action. Putting a school together (in the present) is part of doing philosophy–believing in the power of thought, vibrations and energies that emerge in process. The foundation cannot be divorced from the superstructure. New connections are happening everyday, just today several scholars from India and the West coast of Africa wanted to be part of what we’re doing and so we’re starting talks about setting up centers there and in other places besides. Could this thing fail–absolutely. But that’s the risk involved in trying to make connections, shifts, and and dare to let thought go where it may forging different possibilities and new creations. That to me is trying to live out philosophy. Are there problems with this? Yes there are many, and each are riddled with singular dangers and traps the nature of which we don’t yet understand. But that shouldn’t stop us from risking something different. Can philosophy be done in existing universities–I think so, but it is difficult given how the reigning neoliberal regime is structured. But my experience teaching in university and college told me otherwise and that experience has led me to try something different. But suppose we reject this corporate structure–suppose we try to configure a different way in which thinking and creating art, music, and poetry happen? Something will emerge, but I don’t know what that may be. The GCAS is organizing a way to do this. Will it be perfect? No, but it is an attempt to risk something different. On this level, I ask you all to join in on this idea, this action. We have nothing to lose….

  29. robotsdancingalone Says:

    Uh.

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  31. Craig McFarlane Says:

    I can see why Creston was hired as Vice-Provost—bringing the campus into cyberspace!

  32. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    1) this clarifies nothing, especially as regards the fantasist use of the present tense.
    2) the whole point of the critique is this this looks precisely like it is NOT something different.
    3) are you using neoliberal as a random word to mean “bad”? Cause I just have no idea what your use of the word has to do with many institutions.

  33. Adam Kotsko Says:

    We should fight neoliberalism with vague cliches about innovation and risk!

  34. Alex Says:

    Its interesting that this university is pitched by Creston here at “resisting neoliberalism”. Seems that this term is being used as a vague free floating signifier for “bad things” rather than as a specific historical movement of named people. This is a move that both prevents the proper analysis of the phenomena and any actual resistance to it. Or else the term is being used as an academic cipher for “capitalism”, which is a different matter entirely. I fail to see how this model of university in any way disrupts neoliberalism by reproducing its models of debt, tutelage and so on. Much less how it reproduces capitalism as such. I’d wager rather that in its model, much like A.C. Grayling’s New College of the Humanities in the UK, swings rather close to the neoliberal idea of what a post-social contract university would look like. Which is fine, of course, but people shouldn’t be deluded that this is a political act.

    At the same time I can’t help but wonder how many of the star academics were involved in the UK or in California or elsewhere when students were actively resisting neoliberalism by occupying buildings, taking beatings from police and risking themselves against the power of the State and its laws. Were they providing material or moral support or were they largely considering these actions infantile, confused and so on? Seems in terms of risk such actions were significantly more dangerous and (certainly in the UK, which is the only place I can speak of with personal experience) disruptive to neoliberalism than founding a new college.

  35. Adam Kotsko Says:

    So here’s what I don’t understand, Creston. I get that you have a very robust social network and you are well-positioned to organize lectures, seminars, etc. My question is: why couldn’t it just be that? Why not put together an ongoing series of seminars, either just in Denver or in some way worldwide? That could be a really cool thing, and it could get to the point where you could make a living off of it by splitting the fees with the speaker (though presumably you’d need to pay them less than $17,000). You could make the materials available on YouTube after the seminars are concluded, so you’d be contributing to the public good — plus you’d give younger scholars a chance to meet more established people, etc.

    I don’t think anyone would have been at all skeptical if you’d done that. What is causing the skepticism and backlash are your crazy claims that you’re going to revolutionize education, create a totally new kind of institution, etc. Even claiming that you’re going to be accredited and offer degrees is extremely, extremely unrealistic. Why the crazy exaggerations? Why can’t you just do something good and interesting without turning it into the ultimate revolution of all humankind?

  36. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Same goes for your interview about your book series at Columbia. You’re publishing some good stuff! Why can’t it just be what it is, instead of an unprecedented space for radical thought, etc.?

  37. BoEberle Says:

    One thing that might be worth noting is that this discussion has mostly been about “big names” functioning within the EGS/GCAS model (granted we don’t quite know what the gcas model is yet). This issues about accessibility and pedagogy when it comes to these star intellectuals is not, at least in my experience, limited to the seminar/EGS model. Even within a traditional university system, these figures are still likely to only provide a limited amount of time to their students, even their own advisees (and the programs can be significantly more expensive). So this is only to say that this is just the catch 22 of trying to work with famous academics, no matter where you do it, and I know plenty of folks who made pilgrimages to schools more expensive than EGS to work with superstar X. I suspect many actually existing neoliberal institutions already sustain themselves or at least graduate programs through this practice.

    So if the problem (or known opportunity cost) is working with big name intellectuals, then clearly concentrating them all into a seminar type organization that charges for this kind of limited education seems problematic (unless you happen to be a rich kid who’s really into continental philosophy and can’t be impeded by mere matters of economic absurdity). But one thing to not overlook, perhaps, is that not every “faculty” member, at least at GCAS, is a celebrity per se. If I were to engage with the program, for example, sure I would love to attend lectures by Badiou (if it didn’t break the bank) because lectures are a good thing and I’d be happy that great lecturers were being scheduled to speak in the same place in a short period of time, but I’d be most excited to actually work with other scholars who I knew were passionate about working with students (and I know several of these people are associated with GCAS). I am concerned that someone might think that they can get Zizek to pay attention to them like a junior faculty member who just got their first doctoral student, but this kind of naive attitude toward graduate school in general is likely to hinder and individual no matter where they go, and if GCAS is writing checks they can’t cash on that front, then it’s a shame, but I haven’t necessarily seen that (even if the language on the site seems, at the moment at least, a bit hyperbolic, I’m not willing to let my own cynicism stop me from at least waiting to see what opportunities arise).

    I would be excited by an institution that organized or concentrated a set of academics around a common problem and made it feasible for them all to be in close proximity to collaborate and teach. That’s what I don’t really see the university structure allowing for, the kind of organized intellectual labor that students can participate in. The superstars in the group might attract some people and even get publicity for the institution, sure (and hey, it’s no ideal) but my hope would be that the real work takes place then in the space that the big names open up rather than the expectation that they do it themselves (with or without their “students”).

  38. Brennan Breed Says:

    Where does the $17,000 figure come from?

  39. Adam Kotsko Says:

    A place where big names draw people in and then other people do the actual grunt-work of pedagogy does not strike me as a major innovation.

  40. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I was just repeating what Shaviro said, though I’ve heard rumors of $10K from other sources.

  41. Brennan Breed Says:

    Paying instructors that per *course*? How are they going to pay for that… corporate sponsorship, perhaps?

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  44. clayton crockett Says:

    I’m not surprised at Adam’s skepticism, and he’s fully justified in being so. At the same time, I fully support Creston in this venture because of the state of our academic and educational institutions and my sense of their direction into the future. And I feel compromised, a sell-out, in terms of my work at my actually existing institution, which is ever-succumbing to administrative quantitative control and more and more my efforts are being swallowed up by Assessment. Part of the enthusiasm and the skepticism–they form a parallax–is the sheer sense of possibility, almost to the point of vertigo, that something new might actually happen, and the knowledge that if and when it does it will be less than what has been promised, necessarily. And we will be disappointed. Or it will crash and burn. Or both. At the same time I feel compromised, duped by my naivete for supporting this, for believing that it could actually succeed and even if it does, that anything will change. I KNOW BETTER. And I know that the Other (not merely Adam, but in this case Adam and others insofar as he (they) occupies this subject position here now) can never be satisfied or justified by any answer or any defense Creston or anyone else could give for doing this. But I’m doing it anyway, for the most irrational of reasons. For love.

  45. robotsdancingalone Says:

    But isn’t the issue that there is nothing even in their ‘promise’ that is new? Supporting a venture just because it claims novelty seems strange. I haven’t seen any concrete information on how GCAS is going to bypass neoliberalism and corporatisation, as both APS and AK pointed out above.

  46. robotsdancingalone Says:

    And sorry, but that interview Adam linked to makes for fairly desperate reading.

  47. robotsdancingalone Says:

    ‘Yes, Ward Blanton, Jeff, Clayton and I have been writing our insurrectionist manifesto that will finally position religion, philosophy and psychoanalysis in a positive new direction’.

    Good to know.

  48. clayton crockett Says:

    Yes. Insurrectionist theology is an act of desperation.

  49. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I guess that’s one way to interpret the Kierkegaardian leap of faith. Credo quia absurdam est.

  50. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    … Sigh. Really, we have to pretend that we’re not doing it “for love”? “You’re fully justified, but I will in no way change my position.” I get it, I do.

  51. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    “Insurrectionist theology is an act of desperation.” Alright, I’m getting tired of this. Look, you guys publish good books. They are books that probably would be published anyway, for the most part, but really. Come on. An act of desperation? You think CUP is in this game because these are somehow acts made holy through their desperation?

  52. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Yes, all this talk of love and faith is extremely difficult for me to take seriously, given the incredible gap between the realities and the promises involved. Indeed, holding onto this vague promise of Radical Change — when everything concretely promised is actually nothing but the same old celebrity-driven marketing bullshit — strikes me as pathetic. I just do not fucking understand.

  53. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    I guess in the spirit of “unpopular opinions” on twitter I will state that I unequivocally do not feel like a sell-out for teaching in a traditional university. I honestly don’t understand what that would mean outside of a Malcolm Harris style critique.

  54. Craig McFarlane Says:

    Anthony, I agree with you. I don’t know how teaching undergraduates under hostile conditions–them growing up in an anti-intellectual culture and us working in anti-intellectual culture–constitutes “selling out.” Whether the number is $10,000 or $17,000, in either case, (semi-) celebrity intellectuals who don’t need the money are being paid more for a week’s worth of teaching than many, if not most, college and universities instructors make in a year. GCAS seems to be nothing but an abdication of any moral responsibility a “radical intellectual” could possibly claim. Creston: you want to teach my courses for a week? You’ll have to pay your own travel, living expenses, teaching expenses, and I can give you maybe $300 for it. In other words, you’re welcome to be a “sell out” like me. No wonder you’ve abdicated any moral responsibility: it’s easier to play radical and make laughably empty promises than it is to teach in a university.

  55. Brennan Breed Says:

    To add to APS and Craig’s comments: there are lots of problems with higher education, but the basic idea of higher education isn’t a problem. We’re supposed to be talking to students about ideas and reading their work. Why do we need something new? Clayton is upset about his transition to administrative and assessment work — sure, but that isn’t the actual model of higher education, right? This new school seems to be doing several things at once: critiquing higher education as a whole, claiming to do something radically new, and then proposing a model that looks like a very expensive celebrity MOOC sort of thing (which perpetuates both student debt issues and class distinctions between superstar professors and lame adjuncts), complete with slick marketing.

    Maybe we need something radically new — this doesn’t look like that, though. In the meantime, why not set up an organization dedicated to pointing out the problems in higher ed that we could fix — like the adjunctification, administrization and MOOCifying of the professorate? And how about we get these super all-star professors to donate their time and become leaders of this, and use our slick marketing powers to alert the general public to the impending threats to higher ed?

    This seems like a very American Christian thing to do — the world is corrupt, so run away and start a new, pure movement that won’t be corrupted with the same sorts of evils. The problem is that you’re just going to reproduce the basic pattern of what you left behind, and that’s what this looks like to me.

  56. Adam Kotsko Says:

    One thing that puzzled me in Creston’s interview was this sentence: “So it speaks volumes about the courage that Columbia University Press has in pushing the limits and boundaries of traditional orthodox thinking so intrinsic to forms of American feminism, neo-conservatism, liberalism, religion, politics, aesthetics and so on that only serve as ideological masks behind which corporate power strangles academic and political freedom” (emphasis added). What I wonder is why feminism even belongs in such a series, much less as the very first item.

    I doubt he’s going to return to the thread, however, so I’ll never know.

  57. clayton crockett Says:

    I get that you don’t understand, and I also get–at least in part–why you don’t understand. I’m not accusing anyone of selling out, I just said I sometimes feel that way, and I feel compromised rather than pure in all of my choices and decisions. I do change my positions all the time, but actions are sometimes, at least potentially, a different issue–fidelity for instance.

    I generally try to stay out of personal polemics, and I appreciate the sincere concerns about the status and role of education and especially exploitation of grad students. There are real concerns and real issues and real problems being expressed here. I hope that this venture, if it succeeds, might be slightly less rather than more exploitative of faculty and students, but I may be disappointed in that hope–it’s a big risk.

    However, I also don’t appreciate the at-times dismissive, disparaging and personal tone of the post and its comments, and I wanted it to be clear to anyone and everyone that I stand behind Creston and the incipient GCAS in this ‘case.’ Yes Creston is hyperbolic, but if he wasn’t hyperbolic he would not be Creston. I do appreciate how intensely you do not want Creston to be Creston. Finally, I fully understand that no rational defense could possibly sway the self-anointed Tribunal of AUFS Reason, so in future I will try to counsel people desirous of starting anything substantially new to seek a prior dispensation if they don’t want to run afoul of its inquisitorial procedures.

  58. Craig McFarlane Says:

    I commented to no one in particular on Twitter, but because my audience is somewhat smaller than the readership of AUFS, I thought some might be interested to note that GCAS is operating as a straight up neo-liberal university having experienced its first turnover in the office of the President (Provost-Smith has been replaced by Olkowski and Provost-Smith is no longer listed as “faculty”); Creston has been promoted to a new VP portfolio and several other executives have been appointed; and, finally, GCAS is actively searching for someone to fill the vital role of VP Finance. Yes, that’s right: the radically non-neo-liberal university is in search of the neo-liberal position par excellence–VP Finance. At least they’ve committed to the same name for more than forty-eight hours. We must recognize the small victories among the mountains of absurdities.

  59. clayton crockett Says:

    Creston was referring to Katerina Kolozova’s The Cut of the Real, forthcoming in January.

  60. Adam Kotsko Says:

    You really should leave sarcasm to the experts, Clayton.

  61. clayton crockett Says:

    You are the master.

  62. robotsdancingalone Says:

    Clayton:

    Sorry you feel attacked.

    Can you discuss some concrete ways that the GCAL positively differs from conventional universities?

    Prob going around in circles at this point, but worth a shot.

  63. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Well, one big difference I would point out between the Exciting New Grad School is that conventional universities actually exist. Yet its inexistence should be taken not in a solely negative or privative sense. To paraphrase Heidegger, “Our comments on the preliminary conception of the Exciting New Grad School have shown that what is essential in it does not lie in its actuality as an educational ‘institution.’ Higher than actuality stands possibility. We can understand the Exciting New Grad School only by seizing upon it as a possibility.”

  64. Adam Kotsko Says:

    In my frustration with Clayton’s “Let Creston be Creston!” comment, I almost missed the fact that he’s begging the question that this will be substantially new. I’ve said that a series of seminars seems like it could be a good idea, and it’s obviously attainable for Creston. Starting a new school from scratch does not seem to me to be realistic. As for transforming education, I’d have to see, you know, any evidence whatsoever that there has been some systematic reflection on pedagogy going into this project — or any thought whatsoever given to the financing structure (beyond getting access to federal aid through accreditation) and how to concretely make the experience different from other grad schools aside from the higher density of “luminaries.”

    I don’t think my views are idiosyncratic or motivated by personal animus against Creston or against anyone else involved in the project. No special AUFS test needs to be passed.

  65. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Clayton,

    How does that make sense of what that sentence in his interview? And, yes, I’d prefer Creston wasn’t the kind of guy who threatened to sue me for libel when I inquired about the accreditation. You aren’t discussing anything here, you aren’t even really engaging, and it’s typical sadly. You are simply making emotional appeals. Let Creston be Creston! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! This is for love!

    Yes, how could this not be personal? How can you demand it not be while setting it up as personal?

  66. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    I guess if you’re counting Sloterdijk as neoconservatism I can see how it’s a list of the topics the series has published on.

  67. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Anthony, please! The series is operating on a level you can’t possibly understand, with your constricted, faithless, loveless vision.

  68. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Again, I like a lot of those books! I’m looking forward to some of the forthcoming ones! I really am happy they are publishing Katerina’s. Hers is one of the few that should be published, but would have had trouble finding a home due to certain publishing prejudices.

  69. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Nothing says “insurrection” quite like publishing multiple works by someone who is basically a right-wing contrarian!

  70. Francis M Says:

    Just when I thought you guys couldn’t get any better, you’ve done it again! I actually am starting to feel sympathy for Creston in spite of myself. I think his only mistake was not asking AK and APS to be insurrectionists at large in his new venture. Nothing quiets down cynicism like a paying job. e.g. note their sudden warm fuzzies toward the “traditional university.”

    By the way, I got a McDonald’s commercial shoved at me last time I was on this site. Long live full communism…

  71. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Well, no one is getting a living wage out of this. But I was asked to teach. I refused, knowing the ridiculous amount of money being offered to some of my friends. But nice attempt!

  72. Adam Kotsko Says:

    The ads are beyond our control and we do not profit from them, except to the extent that they allow us to use WordPress for free.

    I was not asked, but I would never be associated with any effort headed up by Creston due to my past experience with him. If he approached me offering $10K from the school he was helping to found himself, I would assume that he was either lying or deluded. I can understand, however, why people with different experiences of him would say, “Sure, sure, Creston, whatever….”

  73. robotsdancingalone Says:

    I sometimes think your comment policy is a little harsh, then a thread like this appears…

  74. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Yeah. After “Let Creston be Creston!” I figured the thing was not retrievable.

  75. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I feel like we’ve really made some headway here.

  76. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Next time you think our comment policy is too harsh, just come back and look at this pile of shit. This is what happens when we don’t rigorously enforce it.

    Francis M. is blocked henceforth. Clayton is on probation.

  77. Robert Minto Says:

    For what it’s worth, the suspect nature of GCAS is hardly something only evident to Aufs bloggers. Anyone who says that is falling into what seems to be a tradition for the objects of the critiques leveled from this blog: immediately assuming them to be part of some gate keeping cabal. Than which nothing could be sillier. As it happens, with typical incisiveness, Adam has only spoken forthrightly on a subject familiar to any grad student in continental philosophy; I know similar criticisms have been floating around my own philosophy department well before Adam posted anything. So maybe it would be nice if, you know, people who disagree with his criticisms of GCAS could offer reasons rather than just going straight for the personality card…

  78. Dave Says:

    In the interests of a drive-by comment that takes advantage of the page views this is surely getting, and also piggybacks nicely with the Esposito event I had to bail out on, it’s worth noting that there are existing practices which don’t fall into a desire for a clean break from the current university systems (and the problems that involves, which I think Adam gets at in this post). In particular, I am thinking of the edu-factory collective (http://www.edu-factory.org/wp/about/), and more immediately relevant to the Italian context, UniNomade, which just ceased (http://www.uninomade.org/), and the group Commonware, which develops out of part of UniNomade but is going in a new direction & has a more transnational scope like edu-factory (they do not have a website, yet, but one will be launched in a few weeks; here is the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/commonware).

    In the interests of making this a legitimate comment to the post, I do not understand how this issue cannot be construed as personal for those involved in the academy to some extent, given the claims that are being thrown around (i.e. bracketing out the other obvious point of connected histories). I have absolutely no idea what to think about this new endeavor (befuddlement in a bad sense), although I am at the same time pretty pessimistic about the university as institution given some of the current practices as well as the current labor market. For me, one of the primary issues is the twin-headed production and organization of knowledge–this is an issue for which it seems to me that bringing in language of neoliberalism serves to actually obfuscate what is going on (I think that is actually the case with that term in most uses, as its turned into a conceptual skeleton key basically mean “bad”). This is not to say that the task of organizing and producing knowledge autonomous from the capital relation is simple, whether in the existing university or in various para-academic locations (and any new-modeled academic enterprise is precisely a para-academic institution, rather than something like a new form). But this is certainly our lot, at least those who would take up the entire set of broad presuppositions I have been assuming, and I think are assumed by the authors of AUFS and what I’ve seen of this new school).

    In the interests of those presuppositions, then, I’ll shut myself up with the following provocation, stolen from the Commonware project, for Creston and the others involved in this new project: there are no shortcuts to what you are trying to accomplish. Either the general intellect is common, or it is not.

  79. Mark William Westmoreland Says:

    I’m curious about another set of questions different but not totally separate from economics, celebrity, and marketing, namely, to what extent the pedagogy of GCAS differs from the traditional lecture or facilitated seminar. Will the GCAS go beyond the critical pedagogy of Montessori schools? Does the GCAS offer something more challenging than a pedagogy for critical consciousness a la Friere? Pedagogy is very, very important to me; continually reconsidering one’s own teaching methods is, IMO, necessary for good teaching. If the classroom experience of the GCAS is akin to what one normally finds, then I fail to see how such an institution is radical or subversive.

    Having said that, here’s one possibility of something subversive: take one of the best luminaries, ten students, one text (perhaps written by said luminary), and spend 40 hours together in which the luminary is allowed only to speak after every other person has spoken. When allowed to speak, the luminary is only allowed to ask questions and can only speak for as long as the least vocal student spoke.

  80. Jeff Robbins Says:

    I will resist the urge to defend my friends Clayton and Creston–the one who is my loyal task-master, the other an almost spectral presence who has exhibited the proven capacity to make events materialize.

    For the record, I must make it clear that I have been offered and paid nothing for my affiliation with GCAS. Of course, I am one of those non-celebrities to whom Bo was referring in his post.

    And, to make things abundantly clear, I believe in the transformative power of a classically liberal education. It is why I’ve logged countless hours discussing and fighting for the centrality and shape of the humanities at a small, little-known liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania for over a decade. It is why I currently serve as the chair of my department and as the faculty representative on the Board of Trustees at my college. It is why I’ve taught 16 different classes over the past 4 years, in addition to extra individualized tutorials and independent studies. I’ve even gone to the dark side by coming to truly appreciate the value of assessment for contributing to better learning outcomes and a more deliberate curriculum (see http://blogs.lvc.edu/facultynews1213/page/Opening-Message-An-Apostate-for-Assessment-by-Jeff-Robbins.aspx).

    I am no martyr. I do this willingly. Selfishly. Even when it gets in the way of my ambitions to write more. Even when, for the most part, the college cares more often than not about such things as our students’ athletic prowess, fundraising goals, ensuring that we get the requisite number of incoming business majors, etc. than it does about what I’m doing and why. Even when an astronomical ratio of more funding, new hires and better facilities still goes to the sciences and pre-professional programs.

    I believe colleges and universities are a potentially revolutionary space. I’ve witnessed students becoming empowered, enfranchised and conscientized. And I know my experience is not unique.

    This is why I’m on board with the GCAS–not because it is poised as THE alternative to the existing model of American higher education, but because it gives many of us the opportunity to do more and in a more focused way the very thing that most excites us about teaching in the first place: in-depth reading, sustained, seminar-styled discussion, the exposure to different minds with different bases of knowledge and different approaches, and a shared faith that what we do in the classroom might somehow matter.

    Last year after years of seeking the funding and the institution support, I feel like I finally had the opportunity to teach the kind of class that I think needs to be done on the undergraduate level in the humanities. The course was a year long. It was team-taught. It emphasized undergraduate research. And by bringing the subject of our study (Catherine Malabou) to campus to serve as our official respondent for our research symposium, it simulated the real situation of what it means to a working scholar in religion and philosophy. Students were challenged and they excelled beyond my wildest hopes. More than that even, they dared to get excited about their own budding philosophical prowess. It was evident that for the first time they imagined themselves as part of a living conversation.

    It is with this recent pedagogical experiment in mind that I can again say that for me at least the GCAS is not an alternative, but an extension.

  81. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Jeff, It sounds like you and I have had a similar journey in many ways. It also sounds like you’re viewing the GCAS as a kind of on-going repository of funding and connections for the types of pedagogical experiments that you describe — in other words, something more like the “series of seminars” model that I have continually put forward as the most plausible and beneficial outcome for the project. Perhaps I’m just not as good at tuning out the hyperbole as others are.

  82. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Jeff, I really would like someone to address the actual issues without just appealing to a vague sense of promise. For example, the fact you’ve been offered no money while others have been offered 10k (I have screen captures) doesn’t suggest already a certain issue regarding transparency to you? So you don’t see the place as THE alternative, but why do you look last the hyperbole? Why do people keep slipping between a discussion of undergraduate and graduate education?

  83. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Perhaps my paraphrase of Heidegger will have proven to be the final word on this topic.

  84. Adam Kotsko Says:

    (I quietly note that one may learn interesting things by clicking through various links on the fund-raising page.)

  85. Christopher D. Rodkey Says:

    Do all HR decisions have to be transparent?

  86. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Is that really the most relevant question?

  87. robotsdancingalone Says:

    I’m still no clearer on how GCAS is sundering or remodelling the conventional links between money and research/pedagogy. I’m also still unclear about how their model might be replicable or transplantable to other universities outside of a general MOOC framework. Is it possible to get some kind of answer on this? I’m genuinely interested, and the interventions from GCAS affiliates and supporters on this thread have revealed little in these regards.

  88. Peter Gratton Says:

    Eh, I think there’s a chicken and egg problem in building any institution: you’re trying to raise funds but people won’t give funds until you seem to have the whole thing built, including names attached and so on. But that said,
    1. Unless there’s already a great amount of money already by some at the Gold or Fellow levels of sponsorship, it would seem dubious to list faculty that you can’t yet pay or provide a bare minimum of support for (facilities, for example).
    2. You wouldn’t request applications for a program with one listed course (so far, of course), to be reviewed by who knows, and nothing said about the financial commitment of those students applying. These are basic questions and given the applications are due next month, not a crazy one.
    3. You also wouldn’t suggest it’s three credits that can be transferred to other graduate institutions. This is for two reasons: 1) It’s not clear where the accreditation comes from, and 2) each university makes this decision on its own; it’s not for the incipient, “aspirational” grad school to make this choice.
    4. Having not formed the institution yet–spitballing ideas about what one wants doesn’t count–you would not then turn to other existing institutions and declare “all” of them beholden to corporate fascism, since we all tread in the real world of systems that compromise us and against which we battle.
    5. You wouldn’t put on FB that you are looking for Kanye West for the opening gala (it’s since been taken down) given no. 4.

    (I also wouldn’t promise people pay and transport if the funds are not yet there; that’s writing a check on zero funds, but otherwise I don’t care about salaries of some versus others, though no. 4 arguably applies.)

    Anyway, maybe this is all a Badiouian forcing of the event as if it’s already occurred…

  89. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Wow, a little late to the party as usual, I suppose. But that’s also my point. My name gets mentioned at the top of this, and the title and the conversation is all about this new grad school, but the content is uninformed speculation based on what were – admittedly – ill chosen slogans that got tossed out there and recirculated. To date I have had no exchanges with either Adam or Anthony, except when I reached out to him once to try and move beyond the tiff between he and Creston, and the response was to never contact him again. Yet Anthony is still lying here about matters that transpired, and he’s doing it all over the place, and he’s doing it without actually engaging any of us in something resembling actual exchange. I don’t know Adam at all, and we’ve never had any exchange whatsoever, and – again – that’s the point. And this whole thing appears to me as a textbook case of anything that one says can and will be used against them on blocked Twitter accounts and blogs that are read by a circle of friends and other interested people. No complaint about the blogs, I’ve read one or two. But is this how you really weigh out a new institution? Taking the case from sound bites (and even with my admission that Creston set himself up for some of that) and pounding it out on Twitter or this blog? With the only posters who have been in actual conversation with us being Clayton and Jeff? And we’re told that it’s absurd to think that this kind of setup could ever be accredited, and no matter what we’re doing we’re just reproducing neo-liberal education, and that there is clearly (Adam figured out somehow) no need for a different kind of graduate school. Given that I am in serious conversation with people every other day – people with expansive experience in existing universities, and similar institutions (including Wolfgang Shirmacher), I wonder why in the world we should bother responding at all to dust ups from people who have never actually engaged us (most certainly not me) in any actual conversation concerning any of the questions on the table. I’ve been in charge of the accreditation process – did it occur to you, Adam, that I might have a reasonable sense about what that means? I’m not going to lay all that out for scrutiny to a group who have demonstrated that their pontificating about this new school need not require any really serious conversation or even really minimal effort to actually listen and try and understand what it is that we’re doing. It’s clearly absurd to you all, primarily I think because Creston is involved, which both Anthony and Adam have passed around in Twitter feeds as “actually insane.” But if it’s about this new school, why not actually try and talk about it? You’re working off of caricature and mis-information, not because you’ve tried to actually engage any of us, but because your discussion seems to make evident that it doesn’t matter, because this is clearly absurd, clearly can’t be done, clearly can’t actually do anything new, clearly reproduces all of the difficulties (for more complex than your caricatures) and yet I get to talk to heads of university departments, serious philosophers and theologians, and people from around different parts of the world who are truly interested, and with whom I have a serious intellectual rapport, and you write all of that off as just an instance of how excited people can get over nothing. The consequence of this, as far as I’m concerned, is that this conversation was dead before it ever started, not simply because I wasn’t personally included in any of the shit-slinging, but because what is evidenced is that no-one is really bothering to do more than comb social media and a website in progress for their information, that you rely on past history with Creston, which is obviously, shall we say “complicated,” and that this somehow constitutes a legitimate way to trash the whole project. Because YOUR questions aren’t answered? Why don’t you actually ask me any of them, instead of doing in for a group on private Twitter feeds? The problem now is that I’m hardly interested in the conversation, having already seen clearly that you all are not interested in doing anything more than looking for any fracture out there, taking over-blown (and poorly worded) Facebook buzz as the last word on what we’re doing, and that none of you have actually bothered to talk with me about it, or really even Creston. I can have reorganized my relationship with the GCAS – which Adam seems to suggest as evidence of its absurdity, which is not true. But I can nevertheless say one thing that this new Center (and whatever institution I am setting up to work alongside it) is doing that is “new” insofar as contrast to what I see here: we’re not going to carry out our critique (if that’s what it is) on social media, parts of it blocked from public access, never bother involving the actual persons involved with whatever it is that you’re trashing, and call it good. Nope, in that respect, we hope to be “new.” But the reality is that were actually trying to do something pretty traditional – recover something of higher education that isn’t all about what Sloterdyck took to task as the “critique of cynical reason.” From what I’ve read of Anthony and Adam, you’re both very intelligent and articulate people. So, what gives? Why the inordinate cynicism so evident here that doesn’t bother actually thinking about anything that requires something more than sound-bite social media information? Maybe we’ll have that conversation sometime, whatever my relationship is the the GCAS. And I suppose you can do what you seem to do best, mock things. In the meantime, some of us are actually working to do something that we have articulate and intelligent reasons for doing that perhaps we don’t want to throw in a social media pissing contest. Wait and see how it shapes up, and suspend all this premature and incredibly cynical trashing and my just wait and see. It may fail, but it won’t be for lack of trying, and I’d rather do that than do what I see here. I’m intervening here just to say – for the crowd that reads these things – not all this so-called critique is what it’s cracked up to be. It’s lazy, premature, cynical, and actually very ill-informed.

  90. robotsdancingalone Says:

    So…inform us. It wouldn’t take long to clear up what you clearly see as a lot of misinformation with a couple of firm positive points about the school.

  91. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I noted your withdrawal from the project simply for clarification, not to make it look ridiculous. You were involved, and then information I received indicated you no longer were — so to be fair to you, I noted that fact. If you want me to clarify further what your exact status is, I’m glad to do that.

    For all its great length, though, your response seems to be as defensive and non-substantive as Creston and Clayton’s have been. You repeat Clayton’s very frustrating claims that this is all personal and all about our relationship with Creston, but the critiques we’ve put forward are far from unique to us — the skepticism is widely shared among people who’ve never met or even heard of Creston before. I did my absolute best in the post to bracket my experience with Creston, and everyone is eager to make it personal, presumably so they can dismiss my totally reasonable questions as personal sour grapes.

    In the end, you seem to want to claim that you shouldn’t have to answer our questions because we’re such intolerable assholes for even daring to ask them. The burden of proof is always somehow on us, even though you’re the one engaged in the effort that purports to be both radically new and totally achievable. Not a single basic factual question has even been remotely answered by any of the new school’s advocates — it’s all vague hyperbole (even when it apologizes for Creston’s habitual hyperbole). If we didn’t believe your bare assertions the first time, we’re not going to believe them when you repeat them coupled with unnecessary personal aspersions against us.

  92. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Even saying, “These are matters that are the subject of on-going negotiations and so it would be inappropriate to discuss publicly” — as I’m sure some things related to funding and staffing genuinely are! — would be an improvement over the unmitigated bullshit we’ve been fed in this conversation. At least give us a concrete reason you won’t give us any information.

  93. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    I can do that, and it’s a good way to put it. Temptation is to clear up the misconceptions, but you asked for firm, positive points. Good, better way to do it. The structure and vision for this school emerged between me and Creston, and an awful lot of feedback from an awful lot of people. We didn’t just make this up one drunk afternoon. But given that I am right now operating in advisory capacity, and am parallel to the GCAS, I’m not going to speak “for” it without the current leadership having had a chance to look at it. Let me get back to this later today, or as soon as I get clearance.

    In the meantime, is this a good faith effort here? Is this something to toss around Twitter and mock, or is this something that can be talked about and taken seriously, whatever its flaws may be at this stage? Believe me, I’m not asking for safety (wrong crowd), but just a genuine good faith Q & A about the GCAS. Adam? Your post to start with.

    Of course, it would have been nice to have been asked before all of this got started and spread all over the place, and then we wouldn’t be in this position – but I’ve said that piece and I’m done with it. I’ll respond in a bit.

  94. Adam Kotsko Says:

    It is not my responsibility to cover anyone’s ass. If Creston publicized it on his blog and on Facebook, it’s public. It’s a publicly available website that publicly makes claims. If you’re embarrassed by it or feel it’s premature, then take it down.

    When I was on the job market, for instance, I never once posted publicly about jobs I was applying for or the stage my application had advanced to. Even when I got an offer, I did not publicly discuss that fact until I had signed the contract and had the go-ahead from the school in question. This is not some amazing new technique I came up with. It’s common sense. If the thing isn’t ready for prime-time, go into hibernation until it is.

  95. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    What bare assertions, Adam? What exactly do you have to go on? I’m not taking you to task for asking questions, I’m arguing that you never bothered to ASK them – certainly not of me, and I am one of the two who put this thing together. Your “critiques” are largely based on hearsay, and that doesn’t make them without substance, but it seems the least that you could do would be to try and get good information first. It’s a good faith thing, Adam. I didn’t say you were an asshole for asking questions, I’m not so certain what to think when I can’t figure out where they’ve been asked in a publicly accessible way? I’ve never heard from you.

    And so you call that dissembling on my part to actually say so? Well, ask a question now. I’m listening. Go for it. I haven’t actually heard from you before. Now you have my attention. Too bad it had to traverse all over social media behind closed doors to get this far, isn’t it. Why didn’t you just ask before writing us up like that? Not that difficult of a request, is it?

  96. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    What, do tell, am I lying about? I’m happy to post screengrabs of emails to prove whatever you need me to. What exactly is the problem with being honest about your accreditation process? That has never been clear at all. Why is the school claiming to be working with this a shell of this group ? Does that seem like a reputable fundraising group to the advisory board? Why do questions offend you so much when the early claim about the school was that it would have a revolutionary transparency to it? I’m also curious about these claims you’re making about my twitter feed. Can you provide this tweet?

  97. Adam Kotsko Says:

    This is a public forum. You’ve commented here before. This post was where I asked the questions, to which you among others were implicitly invited to respond. Can we stop with the procedural niceties now?

    I have two questions:

    What is one concrete way that you anticipate the GCAS will improve upon the pedagogy of a typical graduate program?

    What is one specific idea you have for helping to finance people’s education at GCAS aside from gaining access to federal aid (meaning student loans) by obtaining accreditation?

    I will not write either of these answers in stone or hold it against you if you ultimately wind up doing something different. This is a good faith question that is attempting to get some sense of what you’re thinking, beyond the hyperbolic public claims on the website and elsewhere.

  98. sixfootsubwoofer Says:

    Has anyone read ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz?
    This whole thing reads just like the schoolyard scene at the beginning. It’s brilliant!

  99. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    I’d like to leave the comment #100 to make this complete…

  100. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Well, for starters you say that you were threatened with a lawsuit for asking questions about accreditation. Absolutely untrue, and you have no evidence for that association. Secondly, you said that we offered you a job and you turned it down, and used that as a kind of flaunt. That is also untrue. Well, there’s two. Have you found anywhere out there that either of us have carried on about Andrew being so obnoxious and saying all sorts of things so we had to threaten to sue him? Yet you seem to have made heyday in making it known that Creston threatened to sue you, which is actually incorrect, a cease in desist letter is not a legal threat, its a warning. And there were very specific things behind, and statements that you made, that were seriously close (at best) to having crossed a line between spouting off and malicious damage. I have a screenshot too. I’m not taking that public, and I’m not making any charges about it. I’m saying that your story about it is factually incorrect, and that you have made a big case about it as a way of attacking the school, which had nothing to do with Creston’s letter. And it was unwarranted, as this wasn’t a matter for social media mockery, and you won’t be able to find evidence that you were treated that way in social media by me, and I don’t think you’ll find it from Creston.

    So, pride and bickering aside, are you really being fair about this Andrew? Are you really saying that what you’re doing in continuing to bring up that Creston threatened to sue you for asking questions about accreditation is actually in good faith? Can you give me an honest answer to that?

  101. sixfootsubwoofer Says:

    And seeing as I’m in the market for graft, i mean grad schools, I’m very interested in getting some direct answers to Adams questions. So far my emailed questions to GCAS have received no replies.

  102. Craig McFarlane Says:

    Patrick, pardon me, but I’m not inclined to trust your memory and grasp of the facts if you are talking to “Andrew”–a name that, yes, starts with “A” but is neither Anthony nor Adam.

    I’d like to know:

    1. How you came to be involved, how you came to be President of the first (of many) iterations of the “school,” and how you suddenly disappeared from the list of administrators and faculty, and why, if you are neither faculty nor administrator, you are still commenting as though you are involved?
    2. I’d like to hear someone comment clearly and transparently on how the “school” has had more names and Presidents than students. Indeed, there are more abandoned domain names than students!
    3. I’d like to hear how GCAS imagines itself to be different from, say, AC Grayling’s college and, say, Donald Trump’s “university.”
    4. I’d like to see the allegations about the connection between the New Fund and Whitestone Foundation clearly and unambiguously addressed.
    5. I’d like to hear how seeking accreditation in order to qualify for federal student loans in any “subverts” or “revolutionizes” graduate education–isn’t this precisely the “for profit” college model?
    6. A photo of the address listed on the website has been widely circulated. Are students expected to cram themselves in between photocopiers to hear lectures? Will celebrity lecturers use laser printers as lecterns? What’s up with that?
    7. How does the pedagogical model differ from and improve upon what the school takes to be the standard graduate school education model?
    8. Why, if the “school” intends to be taken seriously, has it repeatedly made absolutely ridiculous claims about how revolutionary, subversive and innovative it is? Why has it even gone public without having anything resembling a coherent plan? Why was the original application date for (non-existent?) courses and (non-existent?) programs originally advertised as September 10, but has now been moved forward to September 3? Admittedly, there is now a picture of Zizek and Badiou on the website, which is an improvement over previous incarnations, but this isn’t much of an improvement–how does this course? seminar? radical new innovation? differ from already existing conferences, seminars, or intensive summer schools–after all, GCAS claims to be revolutionary, but it is offering a standard program from mainstream philosophers with a huge audience.

    Thanks for you consideration.

  103. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Okay, I’ve made my point over procedural niceties . . . only I’m confused about ever having posted here on this forum, save a comment on Andrew’s good article on radical theology. I don’t hang out on blogs, I actually found out about this because someone told me by email. Procedural niceties aside, it’s generally good faith to ask before tearing into.

    So, now to your questions. Which I do take in good faith.

    1. I have no issue with pedagogy, and the basis of the school is not to provide a new pedagogy. It’s about providing a new forum that at best partially exists in the academy right now. And it’s about concentrating on set of questions that concerns the broader humanities across the board in the United States and elsewhere, and that is that the humanities and such philosophical disciplines are under increased, and often brutal, pressure from various sources, because it is being increasingly required to transform the classic studia humanitatis into a market commodity. That transformation does intellectually shape the kinds of things that are going on. Closely related to that is that in the existing university system, things like research, writing, and teaching are often subject to the purposes of academic professionalism – meaning things that sustain academics as a professional class – rather than things that are about genuine intellectual equity. Take, for example, the typical situation faced by any doctoral student. Let’s face it, a dissertation is a work permit. The scenario that most students encounter is the temptation to be very trendy, make claims about the “critique” of this or that that are often incredibly pre-mature, and the older sense of the dissertation as a kind of work piece in which a student works to tackle or untangle a real intellectual problem in their field has been rapidly dissipating. So, junior faculty get jobs – what’s the promotion criteria? A book. A promotion permit. Some first books are pretty good, but the vast majority of what is being published out there shouldn’t be, and it creates this vicious cycle. By trying to get at the root of that problem, which I think we can rightly call the corporatization of the university and the economization of education (we exist to provide job training for the national and international economies) we have some chance of starting to break out of it. The position of a new school like this is that it emerged out of the existing university system – which means that it doesn’t have to fight the battle over downsizing of the humanities and all the food fights that make up typical interdepartmental relations. That isn’t looking for some innocent space, it’s about trying a new way to go about this, hoping that it sparks some genuine collaboration with those who are in existing universities, and that we can all make headway on this. As an example, the GCAS is a graduate school that serves two primary audiences of graduate students – the first is actually those who are in existing university programs, who would find the concentration of the seminars and the large group of faculty that we have to be a tremendous resource for their work; the second are graduate students who would enroll directly with the GCAS. That is a work in progress, for accreditation reasons. That doesn’t prevent us from being able to offer course credit for the seminars (either for our own students or those from other programs) through cooperative arrangements. But the emphasize on the “new” is having an independent program that can mobilize resources in ways that established universities cannot, and provide a far more flexible and far-reaching set of resources than any one school can muster. No, we’re not about recording lectures and sending them around the world, and whoever suggested that had no basis for it. We’re building actual collaborative relationships with institutions around the world that allow for student exchange and faculty exchange, as well as the GCAS being able to take its seminars around the world and work with local faculty at existing institutions in terms of both content and teaching. I hope that helps. New response for the second one.

  104. Christopher Says:

    Umm, a “cease and desist” letter *is* a legal threat. It means that if the person in question does not “cease and desist” whatever action they are doing, the author of the letter is going to pursue legal action. See, for example, the silly Wikipedia article. In fact, if Creston (or whoever wrote the “cease and desist” letter) does not intend to actually pursue legal action as a result of APS not complying with the letter, that can be seen as a form of harassment which may also be illegal. Also, I don’t know the specifics of the “cease and desist” letter, but if it was a result of APS asking questions (as he states), then that also could be construed as harassment or bullying. All in all, I’m not finding anything really “radical” in the actions of Creston so far.

  105. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Who is Andrew? You gotta get the names right of people if you’re trying to have a good faith discussion with them in good faith about good faith, that’s a given. And, the only thing I did publicly (you know what that means now, right?) was ask questions about accreditation. You may not be familiar with where the line regarding malicious damages actually is, so I would really recommend asking the legal team Creston said he was about to “Activiate”. And yes, I think people should know that threats of lawsuits happened. It speaks to the judgement of the Provost and VP of Academic and Student Affairs. And yes, I’m being fair about this. This pleading is frankly not an answer to questions.

    And here we go with some screenshots. Here is where Creston asked me if I wanted to join the faculty (I also have communication where others said they were supposed to ask me for Creston, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing those). Frankly I don’t need Creston sending me more threats, so I am not going to put up the screenshots of his emails threatening me. But it is beyond offensive for you to call me a liar when I suspect you have seen them, but perhaps it’s all in good faith and you just don’t actually understand what those legal issues would involve. If that’s the case, educate yourself.

  106. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Your comment on Anthony (Anthony! not Andrew!)’s post was precisely what I had in mind. I know that you know of the site’s existence. I am also confident that we move in common enough social circles that posts of relevance to you will eventually get to you. Everyone is in principle invited to respond to a public blog post, even if comments are moderated.

  107. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Financial aid is a difficult thing to tackle, and that is one of the advantages of already established universities – access to funding that startups don’t readily have available. There’s no denying that. But the existing universities have students swimming in debt, and so there are problems with that situation too. The problem is that no one institution can solve that problem, or basically offer free education or so heavily discounted education that it can’t sustain the resources necessary to exist as a university or institution of any kind. The down side to the charitable model of the 501c3 is that all of that money comes from somewhere, and not always the kinds of things that we’d prefer that it came from. Advanced military hardware brings in a lot of cash to people who are also often donors. I don’t know any, but it’s a fair bet. So to be direct, the one thing that we’re doing is building in ways to provide full or partial tuition waivers to students enrolled in our own graduate programs. The reality is that what funds it are the seminars that are open to all kinds of graduate students. If we cut those down to bare rates, then we don’t have any funding for our own students either. Of course in reality it’s never that kind of zero-sum game, but the fact remains that an institution that is independent is going to be tuition funded, even with a donor base. And my view is that it is better to charge competitive tuition so that it is possible to use some of that to provide aid to others. Again, do the bare minimum for the seminars, and there’s nothing to do for further support for others who need it. The problem that we’re all complaining about is rising tuition rates and lowering services – and I’m right there with you and everyone else. The other problem is that universities have huge infrastructure budgets, and quite often the administration salaries are really very high. So, the second thing that we can do is lower both of those. Fair professional salaries, but not private corp CEO stuff. Right now nobody is getting paid, including me and Creston, who are putting ourselves way out on a limb since we aren’t working out from existing university jobs. And we keep infrastructure way down through the 2-week seminar model, as we don’t have to build and finance a campus to the same magnitude as others – and in that way we are taking a clue from the EGS. We’re not in a position to offer deep-discount tuition for a lot of reasons – this is starting from scratch, not from university-based support. All the costs are up front. And we’re building in all of those ways to keep costs more affordable by building in ways to offer aid. Some of that will come from a donor base, but most of it has to come from us. And we can’t provide it without tuition. There’s no easy way to do this.

  108. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    I’m saying “we” out of habit, because Creston and I did cook this up. I’m not speaking for the GCAS at this time, but reflecting upon what we did cook up.

  109. Adam Kotsko Says:

    If I can just review, we’re terrible assholes for responding publicly to published information. The people on the right side of this dispute show that they are in the right by calling us liars, claiming private knowledge of our personal relationships (I’ve never met Patrick, but he feels confident he can comment on my relationship with Creston, whom I barely know and haven’t spoken to in years), dismissing everything we say as uniformed while refusing to give any concrete information or else as motivated purely by personal reasons, and in one case, threatening one of us with legal action for asking reasonable questions. And of course, one participant in this thread has publicly broken off any association with us — but we’re the ones who are making it personal.

  110. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    I am also very eager to hear the good faith answer on how you it can ethically be claimed that “The Zizek/Badiou seminar can be taken for 3 credit hours that can be either transferred back to your existing university or else it can be used toward a degree via GCAS.” As Peter Gratton notes above, “3. You also wouldn’t suggest it’s three credits that can be transferred to other graduate institutions. This is for two reasons: 1) It’s not clear where the accreditation comes from, and 2) each university makes this decision on its own; it’s not for the incipient, “aspirational” grad school to make this choice.”

  111. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Ladies and gentleman, this is a momentous moment! After over 100 comments, Patrick’s discussion of the possible financial model is actually the first piece of concrete, plausible information we have gotten about the GCAS!

  112. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Slow down, Adam. We’re having an exchange here, isn’t that what it is? I’m not doing any of the thing that you’re talking about. I am saying that you made an awful lot of hay over a very limited amount of publicly available information, and to my knowledge never came to us for any questions or clarifications – except here on your blog?

    I never called you a liar either, and you’re flatly misrepresenting that. I did say that Andrew is lying about some things, and I don’t apologize for that. But this is my point here, instead of actually reading responses there is the rapid-fire vulture ready to drop down on a piece of meat.

    I’m pleading to put that away, and for once actually engage this stuff with somebody who’s been there from the beginning, and if it’s your blog and I was uninvited to discuss an institution that I played a critical part in forming, well, I’ll get over it. Now can we get back to this? Or am I just providing more meat for the vultures? And I’d prefer not to think of it that way. I never said you were assholes, I said it was pretty inappropriate to take all of this to social media (some of it closed at that) and not make a serious effort to actually engage those of us who could have actually responded to things. Long way from asshole, how far is not something I’m going to take a shot at judging.

    Who is doing the attacking here?

  113. Adam Kotsko Says:

    HIS FUCKING NAME IS ANTHONY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  114. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Your account of the financial realities struck me as plausible and responsible, particularly in light of my experience at small institutions of higher education. That is literally the only reassuring thing I’ve heard about this project from anyone so far, though. Even the answer about pedagogy struck me as a little too hand-wavy.

  115. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    “Andrew” here again. Just for the record, I did ask questions to you and Creston on Facebook. Others have too and had their questions erased. So, let’s not get too hasty throwing around the charge of lying.

  116. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I’m not on Facebook, nor do I generally like to e-mail behind the scenes so that half the conversation is public and half is private. I did e-mail Clayton and one other listed faculty member about the project a few weeks ago. Both of them were broadly supportive and didn’t supply me with any secret “ammo” for this post. I didn’t e-mail Creston because I figured his response would be basically like what he posted in this thread. I didn’t e-mail Patrick because I don’t know him. I’ve also obviously discussed the cease and desist order with Anthony and can attest to the contents of all relevant e-mails and screen caps that he sent to me — unless he’s falsifying all this information for my benefit (which he’s obviously not), I believe that the cease and desist letter was at best a thoughtless and overly rash action, and at worst an attempt at harrassment and intimidation. I don’t know Creston well enough to trust that it’s the former rather than the latter, or that the latter was in no way involved. Suffice it to say, the fact that he would do it reflects very poorly on him and on the project he was attempting to defend with it.

  117. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Anthony, my apologies for getting your name wrong. I don’t know you, haven’t had much exchange with you, and I got it mixed up in my head. I do apologize.

    Okay, at least I understand a little more about your sense of the invitation, I was unaware of more than an enquiry about a possible seminar invite. I admit that calling it “offering you a job” is pretty confusing. So, if I said that you were lying, it was on that basis – precisely because I knew that we’d never offered you a job that I was aware of. Okay, I’ll take some responsibility for the misunderstanding, and I think that part of it belongs to you. You weren’t exactly using that invitation as such, you were using it to gloat, from what I’ve seen, and that’s offensive to me. Sorry, it is.

    And secondly, you’re pretty quick off the gun to basically think that I’m incompetent at much of anything that I’m actually talking about. We got it from an attorney where that line was on malicious damages. It was Creston’s fight, not mine, but those things were about the school. Yes, I know exactly what that means. And I’m persuaded that there were legal grounds for making an issue of it. I’m also tremendously relieved that it didn’t happen, because you and Creston seemed to have reached a detente of some kind. I suppose I expected that you would then drop the matter as Creston did, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. If it’s dropped, why go on and on about it, especially in connection to this school? I was making a lot of beyond the scenes efforts to avoid a legal confrontation and pleading for help, precisely because this kind of thing damages everyone around, and there is no such thing as being able to go back and remove malicious things that were said out there in public.

    Lastly, yes I know what public means. But neither do I want it presumed that I’m a social media animal who hangs out on blogs. I’ve actually never used Twitter in my life, and I’ve only looked at it for specific information.

    So, to get beyond this, let’s say that we’re now having a public conversation. That doesn’t mean that I could go start a blog somewhere, open public access, tear into something, and say that in principle you were invited to the conversation. Yeah, I find that a bit of a problem. Putting it aside, no need to be sarcastic, I understand what the word public means, I also understand what the word invited means. Let’s be done with that one, agreed? I just plea for anyone else reading this to maybe ask me or Creston directly if they have something that they’d like to sort out, okay?

  118. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Got it, Adam. Loud and clear. And apologized for the mistake, which would have been apparent had you actually waited a minute. Geez, can we get beyond the screaming shit? I only needed to be told once.

  119. Mark William Westmoreland Says:

    If the GCAS is meant to be a supplement (at least for some students who already attend other institutions) and if GCAS is offering short seminars and if GCAS does not need a fixed campus of its own and if GCAS has minimal administrative personnel and costs, then I recommend that the faculty teach at no cost to the students. The faculty already have salaries from other institutions and faculty have access to apply for grants. It seems quite possible to me that GCAS could offer courses to students at no cost to the student.

  120. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I’m glad that we’ve finally reached a certain consensus on what Anthony’s name is. That’s ground we can build from.

  121. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Then be specific, Adam. What about the part on pedagogy? I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I’m sure as hell not dodging the question.

  122. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Lay off the sarcasm. I’m actually here trying to cooperate.

  123. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Mark, if you can manage to recruit an all-volunteer faculty from a half-dozen or more countries, then I’ll be seriously impressed. What needs to be discussed here is that student finances is a serious problem, but the typical response of asking some particular party to absorb the hit is not exactly a reasonable response. Especially teaching faculty. And some of us are not at other institutions with a salary. And if we were, does that provide us with enough to travel around and teach at our leisure, with all the obligations being pressured from home institutions as well? Sometimes faculty teach extra courses for extra income, and maybe because they need it. I’ve done it. Does that make the course less valuable?

  124. Christopher Says:

    Up next: Paul implies that asking about what “capitalist” universities consider publicly available information is grounds for a libel suit.

    So, Pierre, will the GCAS be an accredited organization by the time its first seminar convenes?

  125. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Okay, Adam, after 100 comments, somebody finally asked a question for me to answer. So, cheers.

  126. Adam Kotsko Says:

    The benefit of the pedagogy post is that it clarifies two points: first, that you don’t claim to have a new and better pedagogical program, and second, what you mean, at least in part, by the corporatization of the university — basically, the “publish or perish” mentality that privileges “production” over reflection and the ability to let ideas mature in their own way. The first point is somewhat surprising in light of all the hyperbole, but I’ve been told to ignore all hyperbole, so I’ll leave that aside.

    On the second point, I’m just not sure how your school can plausibly make any impact on that problem. If you confess that you can’t provide much financial support for students, then how can you encourage a more meditative and deliberative attitude toward the dissertation when people are necessarily going to have to work for a living, etc.? And I don’t see where you’re going to have any impact on the mainstream publication system at all — nor on the employment system for academics, since your model relies on people having regular full-time positions elsewhere.

  127. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Okay, I’m loosing track, so apologies if there is a delay, I’m trying to make sure I respond.

  128. Adam Kotsko Says:

    It’s becoming clear to me that you are consistently a few comments behind, such that you didn’t see the corrections on Anthony’s name until three or four people had pointed it out. My impatient response assumed that you had seen and somehow ignored or glossed over the multiple corrections. That was apparently not the case, and I apologize for my intemperate response.

  129. Mark William Westmoreland Says:

    I definitely understand that not all the faculty listed for GCAS could teach out of their own pockets. I also understand what it is like to have to pick up extra courses just to make ends meet. But, many of the faculty listed are not in that situation and could reasonably cover two weeks of their own expenses. Providing free tuition would be seriously difficult, but I think that it’s something that needs to be pursued diligently. One possibility is for those that do teach elsewhere to seek funds from their home institutions akin to how faculty who edit journals receive funding (and sometimes course reductions) from the host institution. Or apply for teaching grants (often for innovations in pedagogy), which many bigger schools have. Or seek funding from schools’ PR/outreach/advancement (of whatever a school names it) department. I realize this would be difficult; I’m just encouraging you (or whoever at GCAS is responsible for this sort of thing) to really push for this kind of funding situation.

  130. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    To Paul’s question. The matter regarding the libel suit is not about public information, it’s about someone spreading false information and / or unfounded accusation in a malicious way. It’s not a response to public information, it’s about adding insinuations to things that are targeted in such ways are to encourage, for example, potential students to, for example, not study with us because Creston will harm them, or do them harm, or something like that, and because he’s mentally unstable, or “actually insane” or something like that. At least legally speaking, mental health actually takes qualified persons to evaluate and diagnose it, not others who use things like that to try and warn away potential students on the basis of information that is both unavailable to them and in this case patently false. Yeah, everybody slings shit around all the time, and that is precisely my point here – much of it is irresponsible and it can have devastating impacts on people and their careers. If there were a documented mental health issue, then there are legal protections under the Americans With Disabilities Act. As one with disabilities, at least in part by getting slammed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia (which isn’t public, but who cares), I actually do have a stake in the boundaries provided by legal protection. So, there’s a cautionary tale here, be careful about slinging shit, not only because it might cross a legal line, and because it might actually do harm (I’ve seen this over and over), but because it’s just simply an unethical thing to do on any ground. We all swim in the same cess pool. And what goes into faculty hiring, intellectual reputations, and all sorts of things are in this cess pool too. And that’s why I wonder if such a love for attack-mode sarcasm is the best way to go at things.

    Besides, this isn’t a capitalist institution, it’s one that has to exist in a capitalist society, but that’s a far cry from what even Marx meant by something being capitalist.

  131. Jeff Robbins Says:

    I am sitting in my office marveling at the snarky mean-spiritedness issuing forth from this discussion. And I am remembering the public commitment made by its (all male) leaders some months back to monitor their tone so that AUFS could become a more inclusive space. My wife for one has let it be known that she does not feel safe treading in these treacherous, testosterone-infused waters.

    I’m pleading with your better angels.

  132. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    I would suggest getting a better attorney. Need a number? And I am talking about it, because people are allowed to talk about things in public! But I’m done with this conversation for now. I have to work on my class prep for my slave driving über-capitalist institution where we survive by cracking open the spines of our students and drinking the money directly from their spinal fluid. It’s a weird place. You actually have to have done something prior to making a claim about it. And if you do that, you know, make a claim before having done anything, people get strangely upset! Crazy!

  133. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Duly noted, Jeff. I hope things are gradually improving, even in this very thread. I will add, though, that Clayton did not help matters yesterday.

  134. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Point very well taken, Mark. One of the challenges is that funding from home institutions is a pretty hard thing to get in many of these fields, precisely for the reason that funding is drying up across the board for the philosophical and humanities fields – well, because we don’t necessarily make money for the big economy. Part of the initiative behind an independent institution is to provide a place for the concentration of these disciplines, but unfortunately that also means that it can’t rely on the evaporating pool of university support. If that funding was available, the university faculties would be using it for their own programs. The second part is that it can be very deceptive to try to figure out who can afford what. Some on that faculty are seriously ill as well, or have other ongoing medical problems – I do now, and I’m only 47. Hard to draw the line around looking at me and determining what I can afford and couldn’t, even when I was on the Harvard faculty and everyone thought I had access to Harvard’s 80 billion endowment or whatever it was. No, I’m actually scrapping like the rest of them, with the knowledge that I did have more resources than most in similar positions. Did I have access to money for the school to pay me to go teach somewhere for two weeks? No, not unless it came out of my research budget, but then the research expectations come in, and so forth. So, yeah, I taught Harvard Extension School classes a few times for extra money. And the GCAS needs to be very aware of the issues that you’re raising (and are), but they can’t go asking faculty for a financial statement to ask them to come and teach for free. A big name university position doesn’t make for a person with money to spare, necessarily. Sometimes it does. But those people can offer to teach for free because of what they want to support, but we can’t name names on who is doing what. It’s not an easy problem to sort out.

  135. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Because, Craig, I can’t type that damn fast. Okay? Slow on the ignoring part.

  136. Rob Says:

    Has Creston been trained as a psychoanalyst at an actual, accredited psychoanalytic institute? Or is he just calling himself a psychoanalyst because he’s read some Freud and some Lacan?
    http://crestoncathcartdavis.wordpress.com/about/

  137. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Thanks, Adam. I appreciate that.

  138. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    I’m looking back to see what I’ve missed, then I’ll get to the recent ones.

  139. Adam Kotsko Says:

    An announcement: no further discussion of Creston’s cease-and-desist letter to Anthony will be allowed here. I will delete any future comments on the topic, regardless of the person who wrote them and regardless of what else is discussed in the same comment.

  140. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    robotsdancingalone The problem that you address here is one that we’re aware of, but aren’t in a position to make some kind of revolutionary spin on all by ourselves. It’s not the primary problem on the table for us, although it is clearly important. It’s difficult when the demand facing a new institution is that they break the cycle of money-pedagogy as a startup and figure out to make this work. What we can do is not be greedy, which I think is fair. We hope to pay our faculty well, and then generosity is their call – it’s pretty hard to pay faculty rock-bottom in the name of aid and support in a way that more or less blackmails their paycheck. It’s one of the paradoxes of the funding system, and I don’t know of a way around it. And by “well” I don’t mean some off the charts paycheck or things like that. But, it’s also fair that HR decisions, payroll, etc., isn’t a public issue, because all that has to go into any of those decisions can’t be public information. That isn’t dissembling, it’s actually a legal issue. But it’s also sensitive if people are going to start going after this professor or that for making too much money – it’s pretty hard call to know what that is, and it’s the difficulty that educators have to face across the board when the expectation is that somehow we should all do this for free, or in someway that answers the student debt problem. It’s a systemic problem. There isn’t some place available to step outside and say, “we’re free.” Pace the irresponsible hyperbole. We do the best that we think we can do, and try to find ways to do it better. We welcome the issue, and discussion about it, but also help us come up with ways to do it, as it concerns everyone.

  141. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Quite a few radical pedagogy folks think that salaries, for faculty and administration, should be public in every university. I agree with that as a transitional demand.

  142. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Okay, to your questions Christopher. As apparently you’ve never made a mistake on a name before with someone that you don’t know and have only recently heard of. Free admission: I do it in the classroom all the time. I forget names of people that I know perfectly well. It’s what happens. Does that make the rest of my talk in the classroom suspect because I couldn’t recall a name of the top of my head while balancing everything else in my head? Wow. This is why I am saying that there are such serious problems in the ways that this has been engaged. I didn’t get Anthony’s name right. Get over it. If he didn’t get mine right I sure as hell wouldn’t carry on about it. Done. Now to your questions.

  143. Christopher Says:

    Patrick,

    Apologies for pushing you on using names. This is a web page which comtains information that standing in a classroom on the spot doesn’t have. When I write replies, I make sure to scroll up and ensure that I’m speaking to the correct name. However, as Adam pointed out after my question (dated Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm CDT), it seems that you’re a few comments behind. So, like Adam, I apologize for misinterpreting your responses as deliberatly using the incorrect name and ignoring corrections by others.

  144. Christopher Says:

    Also, to tell someone else to “get over it” is a fairly poor way to approach a conversation. I’m not a kid in your classroom, so do not treat me like one. You’re not some fucking god here, and I do not take kindly to people who think they can simply assert power in a conversation.

  145. Adam Kotsko Says:

    (A note for Christopher: Only our tone is ever problematic. If anyone else’s appears to be, it’s only a completely justifiable reaction to our harsh tone. This is one of the ontological principles of the blogosphere.)

  146. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Alright, if we aren’t going to actually get answers and it’s going back to tone policing issues, we are in violation of the comment policy. I say we either start erasing all tone-issue comments or we shut the whole thing down. No real information seems forthcoming aside from what was already assumed. Basically, if I can sum up how I am reading Patrick (who has now also called me Paul? Whatever, I don’t really care, it’s more funny than anything), the GCAS had some rushed rhetoric and that the actual plan is basically bog standard but with more focus on humanities such that people don’t have to publish (ok, but most of these are luminaries) and can focus on collaborative teaching. They’d like to do other good things, but those are systematic problems. OK, that’s what we all basically thought. So, unless I’m wrong, shut the comments down?

  147. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Maybe we should keep it open in case PP-S is typing up an epic response to Craig’s eight questions?

  148. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Email him. We can add them later?

  149. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Let’s just leave them open for now.

  150. Christopher Says:

    The Paul name was from my comment to Patrick calling him Paul, then Pierre.

  151. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    Vultures eat dead meat, don’t they?

  152. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    1. How you came to be involved, how you came to be President of the first (of many) iterations of the “school,” and how you suddenly disappeared from the list of administrators and faculty, and why, if you are neither faculty nor administrator, you are still commenting as though you are involved?

    I came to be involved because I was introduced to Creston and we came up with the idea, and then pursued it. I had the title because that’s what the people involved wanted me to do. We figured it out. I don’t have a divine mandate, nor a philosophical consensus behind it. Somebody’s got to do it in this case, and I was asked to take that job. Same as any educational institution, I suppose – board of directors thing as well. What else can I say? As for the last part, read my earlier comments, and I addressed that issue. I also publicly stated my resignation, and what I have to say about it is there. I stated it before my name was removed from the website. I’m answering questions now because I was one of the two people who put this together, and these aren’t policy questions, they’re questions about the nature and orientation of the school. I can answer those, since, well, I was part of putting this together in the first place, whatever my position was for resigning what was my current role in the GCAS and deciding to work in a parallel fashion to the GCAS. That involved a lot of conversations with advisors of mine, and so forth. Easy enough.

    2. I’d like to hear someone comment clearly and transparently on how the “school” has had more names and Presidents than students. Indeed, there are more abandoned domain names than students!

    I’d like to hear clearly and transparently what you’re actually asking. A brand new school that has not yet opened courses has exactly zero students. Fair enough? It has to be set up in advance. The infrastructure has to be in place. Work has to be done. A school doesn’t begin with students, it does the work necessary to make it possible for students to come and enroll or otherwise take seminars. Lastly, we began with a certain understanding of the school in relation to a number of complex questions. As this got going, new perspectives emerged. Also new conversations with more and more people. Also new alliances and strategic partners. I’d like to think that in the very first few weeks of existence, settling on a domain name is not the most important issue. We made provisional choices, and sometimes choices were simply made that not everybody here knew in advance. But that stuff is provisional. With the recent alliance of several partners who are particularly interested in the global aspects of what the school is about, the name was changed, and the reasons for it were posted on the FB page along with the name change. Am I missing something here? Or is all of that really about credibility? It’s about starting a brand new institution, and being willing to do it in conversation with many, many others (something that has grown exponentially), and I’m of the mind that we shape up what we do as a response to those conversations and be flexible enough to make these early changes.

    3. I’d like to hear how GCAS imagines itself to be different from, say, AC Grayling’s college and, say, Donald Trump’s “university.”

    I’ve not the foggiest idea, as I don’t know anything about either of them.

    4. I’d like to see the allegations about the connection between the New Fund and Whitestone Foundation clearly and unambiguously addressed.

    Such as? I don’t know about them. Somebody put it down in a question, and I’ll respond.

    5. I’d like to hear how seeking accreditation in order to qualify for federal student loans in any “subverts” or “revolutionizes” graduate education–isn’t this precisely the “for profit” college model?

    Ah, here we hit the big elephant in the room that we have to face. First, no, none of that is the “for profit” schools model. The model is basically the classic non-profit. The elephant here is that old hyperbole one. Let me put it this way, and please understand the difficulty of my position. Basically all of that revolutionary sloganeering when out there completely without my knowledge until I saw it on FB myself. And then I almost fainted. Creston is my friend, he’s also my partner in this (our current configuration doesn’t change our friendship or close working relation). But I had zero control over that stuff, and didn’t even find out until everyone else did. I made moves to reign it in, and all that I can say is that those were completely unsuccessful. Things spun out of control in a bad way, and my moves to reign that in were unsuccessful. I had to step out for reasons that do include those things. Those do not relate at all the vision of the school that we shared, or what we had actually imagined and planned to do. And I see that a great deal of damage has been done. I don’t know what else to say, except that there is serious substance here in spite of the sloganeering and revolutionary stuff that actually is not representative of the school at all – and yet there is was on the FB page. So, yes the school was responsible, but not because that’s what I envisioned or what the framework was that we developed. I’ve spent a lot of time putting out fires. But please understand that I am not here to trash Creston – he is my friend and I support him fully. I don’t support those actions, and we’re seeing some of the consequences. There was a hard decision to make whether letting it be and trying to pull it together was the way to go, or simply shutting it down. One was unsuccessful, the other would have broken up important relationships that do not need to be broken up. That is our problem, and no one else, but it did affect the public image of the school. And hence “part” of my reason for stepping out. I do truly hope that this will be rectified, and I’ve good reason to think that the initial banner waving has receded, as many have come to us about the problem. My plea is to let it go and look for the serious intentions and framing of the school which all of that most definitely displaced. Part of that is what I’m hoping to rectify in some small way, and why I’ve been here for quite some time trying to honestly engage these questions. We have some making up to do for some of the damage, but it can’t be just gone back and erased, we all have to move forward on it. I’ll be glad to help put out the substantive model that we really did have in mind, even as it spun wildly out of control and went into places it should never have gone.

    6. A photo of the address listed on the website has been widely circulated. Are students expected to cram themselves in between photocopiers to hear lectures? Will celebrity lecturers use laser printers as lecterns? What’s up with that?

    I honestly have no idea what your question is, other than a bad attempt at sarcasm. If there’s something there to ask, I’ll be glad to respond to it, but I need some help here.

    7. How does the pedagogical model differ from and improve upon what the school takes to be the standard graduate school education model?

    A number of ways. One, it isn’t a competitive model that seeks primarily to enroll students at the expense of other graduate institutions. It is a collaborative model that will have it’s own graduate program, but be set up to work with many other graduate schools to offer resources that are not typically available to individual graduate programs (and in most ways unavailable at all, for all kinds of reasons). This is not about just being another graduate school and saying that we’re better than all of them, it’s about mobilizing very specific kinds of resources that we can mobilize by taking on a different (i.e. independent institutional) model that keeps the resources that we have from being consumed by all the things that a regular graduate program has to spend money on. The benefits are the large faculty list – and even though I’m from a very good PhD program that funded well and provided funding for research and writing with all sorts of well-known European philosophers and theorists, the GCAS can concentrate that in much stronger ways, by assembling a coalition of faculty that other graduate schools can take advantage of in collaborative ways. The EGS pioneered the large faculty list of this kind, what we’re adding to that are a couple of things: accessibility to existing graduate schools; expanding that through direct institutional relationships with programs around the world with different kinds of faculty exchange possibilities. I am working with several people on that latter part, and it will be a big part of the institution that I am going to assemble in the near future (not graduate program, but facilitating graduate education). In other words, the jury is still out on whether the best way to accomplish this kind of networking is to have a full-blown graduate program for the GCAS (and there are very good reasons to do that), or be a facilitator for a number of graduate programs that creates a kind of global coalition that finds ways to work together, and there are very good reasons for that. They are not incompatible goals, but we’re still sorting that one out. There are many other ways to support the grad program at the GCAS that are under discussion. In other words, we haven’t opened the doors just yet. And when Creston does, there will be a structure in place, but that doesn’t mean a better one might emerge.

    8. Why, if the “school” intends to be taken seriously, has it repeatedly made absolutely ridiculous claims about how revolutionary, subversive and innovative it is? Why has it even gone public without having anything resembling a coherent plan? Why was the original application date for (non-existent?) courses and (non-existent?) programs originally advertised as September 10, but has now been moved forward to September 3? Admittedly, there is now a picture of Zizek and Badiou on the website, which is an improvement over previous incarnations, but this isn’t much of an improvement–how does this course? seminar? radical new innovation? differ from already existing conferences, seminars, or intensive summer schools–after all, GCAS claims to be revolutionary, but it is offering a standard program from mainstream philosophers with a huge audience.

    I’ve already addressed the bombast. But on the other hand, let me say that the school IS being taken very seriously, and for the right reasons. I’ve been in talks with a lot of people, and there is a lot of support for what has been attempted here – and not just by a bunch of people who are overexcitable, but by very solid and serious intellectuals. The other questions relate to changes that were made in the first two weeks for reasons already mentioned. When registration announcements are announced (which may be the case, I actually don’t know where Creston is on the opening date right now), the structure will be there and registration will open. If it gets delayed a week, it’s not a cataclysmic failure, it means something had to be sorted out. This is a new institution, there will be things to sort out. Honesty is in dealing with them, not in thinking that they’ll never happen to us because all the planning works just as we thought it would.

    If you want to know how the seminars are different, maybe consider attending one. It’s hard to tell you exactly what the seminar will be considerably in advance of the seminar itself. No, it is not the standard seminar with big-name philosophers, and we haven’t said anything at all about the format, or laser printers as pointers, or crap like that. Ask people after the first seminar what it was like. They will be different, because very different people are doing them. As for the public announcement of the institute, we put out a “coming soon” and it caught a lot of buzz, and we reconfigured and fine-tuned a bit as it went. No apologies there (except for when it spun out of control into the bombast thing). We said that the plan and program were coming. Okay, they’re coming.

  153. mb Says:

    Just posted by Creston Davis on the facebook page of the graduate school:

    “Student Loans are a sign of a society that lacks a commitment to training the next generation to be able to stand-up against injustices in order to preserve the common-good. In other words, a society that is not willing to preserve itself will undermine education (and thereby it’s own health) so that the fat-cats continue robbing the poor. Put differently: Student Loans are a means of attacking and subverting the common-good!”

  154. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Anthony, on the credit hours. The attempt here is to match what the standard graduate seminar that is normally undertaken over a semester actually counts for. The hours are compatible, given the full structure of the seminar, and there are strong histories for these kinds of arrangements. Yes, we can call it three credit hours. We can’t guarantee that other institutions will honor that, but it does meet standard practices at the moment, and we attempt to construct our practices accordingly. Secondly, course credit and accreditation are vastly different things. Courses are never accredited, institutions are accredited. As the GCAS is pursuing its own accreditation, arrangement are there with partnering institutions who authorize the course and approve the seminar and have faculty at the seminar, who are accredited institutions in the EU. The credit awarded for the seminar is eligible for transfer to any institution that is party to the Bologna protocols that currently exist in the EU and in many other places that have adopted those protocols. The US is not party to the Bologna agreements, however universities in the US have long histories of accepting transfer credits from Europe. So, it isn’t like you present as some incipient institution getting to decide how to do this, and that represents precisely the attitude that I keep objecting to.

    RE the Facebook conversation. I was getting emails while it was going on (I wasn’t there at the beginning) asking me why you were so hostile. I’m not making that up, that’s the way you were perceived. The truth of the matter is that poor wording on Creston’s part provided the opportunity for a rampage. Everyone kept asking you to wait until we could make a public statement, and you accused us all of just refusing to answer a simple question. The problem was that the original statement by Creston was based on a misunderstanding of his that got corrected, but that didn’t account for the beligerence that was widely perceived coming from you. That’s how I knew it was happening – email asking me why you were so hostile. The “we’ll make a public statement” was what it took for me to rectify the problem by correcting Creston’s misunderstanding – he meant to say that the courses were for credit, and misspoke and said “accredited,” a mistake which I hear from professors all the time. Hammering on it, as you did, and not being willing to wait for an actual statement, was a serious problem for me. I tried to answer that things were considerably more complicated than you understood – and they are, but with the knowledge that you’d just pounce on it anyway since that’s what you were already doing.

    Here’s the straight answer. The courses are offered for credit, and that is through partnering institutions who are accredited within the European system. The GCAS will be pursing accreditation, and that takes time. Courses can be offered for credit through partnering institutions. The accreditation issues are as follows: contrary to your “simple question” thoughts, the accreditation agencies actually have very specific language that an institution is required to use in any public statement about accreditation. We didn’t get to make up that rule. I am actually NOT LEGALLY allowed to say that “we are in the process of obtaining accreditation with XYZ.” I don’t get a choice in that. When accreditation is obtained, the agencies have very specific language that is required for public statements, and in both of these cases they provide the language for you. So rather than ranting about avoiding questions because we wouldn’t answer you, a situation was created where I made Creston yank the conversation, because there were things there that were dangerously close to legal lines established by accreditation agencies, not by us. You can say that LaSalle is accredited by XYZ, but you can’t state that as a representative of the institution with the language provided by the accreditation agency. I was in the position of representing our school, I can’t just say things because you demand them, as there are problem with that, and your only response was to accuse us of hiding behind the law and dissembling. Maybe, just maybe, Anthony, you didn’t know what you were asking and the position that it put me in as a legal representative of our school. Hence I could not answer your questions as stated, and I had to do something to correct the original statement by Creston that was worded incorrectly. Yes, it was that complicated, Anthony. Maybe you could have considered that, and maybe waited for the statement that we said would be released with the official course announcement. It would have saved us all a lot of frustration and conflict.

  155. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Okay, I have lost track. I’m trying to be as open as possible and answer questions here. Is there anything else I’m missing? I may not provide satisfaction for every answer out there, but this is a good faith effort to answer them as I can right now. Anything else?

  156. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    mb. Then the bombast continues. What can I say? I’m trying to be different about this. And I can’t control that.

  157. mb Says:

    more from Davis:

    “At the first seminar, I would like to propose that we all commit to overthrowing the student debt crisis as it’s preventing free speech by the chains of the banks. It’s time we took the courage to stand up for anything that hinders free speech and direct action.”

  158. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Thanks for the helpful clarification, Christopher. No, I didn’t call Anthony by the name of Paul, I’ve been well corrected for my slips.

  159. simon Says:

    Also this on the Facebook page (rather more bold on funding than Patrick’s line as well… and mind the typos):

    “Some want to know how the GSAS is different from the traditional-corporate, main-stream graduate schools that functions systemically in a manor that only reproduces the same crisis in which we find ourselves.

    Here is how we are different.

    We are committed to the public good and a democratic outlook. In this way we understand education as a service to our communities both local and global. That is why we are going to provide the finest faculty in the world to students (and the public) at very low (and eventually) no tuition rates; indeed we are committed to fully supporting the best student scholars (i.e., graduate students) that gives then material support so they can procure a PhD without going into debt. And because we are building an international presence, their ability to secure a position after graduating may be far greater than securing a post via the traditional “main-stream” graduate programs. We are different in other ways too, but those ways will be published in the forthcoming weeks.”

  160. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Oh, crap. Judge it as you will. I stepped away, and wanted to build something independent of the GCAS that could still support its actual vision and goals. But I can’t defend that stuff. I can say that there is really serious substance behind what Creston and I worked to put together, and it was a vision and a model that had considerable thought put into it, and was well-recieved by a lot of people. If the bombast is destroying it, well . . . . I’m not sure what to say. If you can all see through it long enough to give the seminars a chance, which is asking you all to bracket lots of justified skepticism, that would be the most I could ask for. However, I can tell you all what this was about in the first place, and how it took shape according to the continuing conversations that were going on all of the time, and what is (hopefully) still there beyond the bombast and irresponsible rhetoric. I’ll be glad to address those things as I can, even knowing that I’m working in parallel hear and no longer represent the school.

  161. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Simon. Well, what I said was where we were when we were still on the same page with the GCAS. Take it from there.

  162. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    In other words, what is coming out at the GCAS right now is not the same thing that we had on the plate together. I’m not doing damage control, I’m trying to give answers as best I can as to what we did have in mind when putting this together. The rest is up to the GCAS.

  163. Christopher Says:

    As a graduate of a European university, I can state unequivocally that they are not considered accredited by US institutions (even if the university accepts US federal student loan money). I have received requests from more than one American university to have my transcripts evaluated by a US agency — despite the university I attended being founded before Columbus’s discovery of America and having exchange agreements (both student and faculty) with prominent American universities. This tends to be universities low on the “prestige scale” while universities higher up that scale are not as audacious.

  164. ben Says:

    “stand-up”? “common-good”? what’s with the hyphens?

  165. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I appreciate your contribution and openness, Patrick. I can understand how you would feel blindsided by this post and start off on a defensive note. I hope others can lay off on mocking Patrick for the remainder of this thread. What you thought you were trying to build is much more reasonable by far than what Creston is presenting.

  166. Mark William Westmoreland Says:

    …what Adam just said.

  167. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    By the way, Anthony, if you want to know where the accreditation come from, it has to do with the geography of where Colorado falls into the regional scheme. Okay, I didn’t actually name names.

    And, oh hell, I’m not representing the school anyway right now. Two things: State of Colorado authorization for an institution of higher education as a degree granting institution, provisional based on reasonable progress with the regional accreditation agencies. Second, regional accreditation agency that typically oversees Colorado, the NCA-HLC. Those were on the master plan when I was the one responsible. Where it goes from here is not something that I can represent. But, Adam, yes I have every good reason to think that an institution like this can be accredited under those regimes. But it takes work and organization.

  168. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    So when is it safe to unfriend Creston Davis on Facebook? I don’t want to miss all the important updates and so on…

  169. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Christopher, yes I know that European institutions are not considered accredited by the US. I never implied that. But US institutions are quite accustomed to accepting transfer credits from European institutions. Federal Aid is a wholly different matter.

  170. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I’ve said repeatedly that the root idea of organizing a series of seminars seemed like an unambiguously good idea. If they could be taken for credit in some form by grad students from various institutions, it would make sense to be open to the possibility of it growing to become a small, free-standing degree-granting graduate institution of its own — though I personally would have been more cautious on that aspect and held it in reserve until the seminars had been going for a while and developed a good reputation. I have nothing against the entrepreneurial impulse behind this initiative and think that young academics would do well to think more creatively about how they might be able to create jobs for themselves doing something meaningful and related to their scholarly passions.

    It’d be a shame if irresponsible bombast derailed an idea that, at its root, was rational and beneficial.

  171. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Take your pick, Mikhail.

  172. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Ben. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and hence often use spell check, and sometimes it gets in the way. And I’m typing an awful lot right now, I don’t have time to proofread.

  173. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Thank you Adam. Yes, I was pretty blindsided, because I hear about all of this third-hand, and I wonder how it all gets going when as a co-founder of this institution I haven’t been in a position to actually engage the discussions – and most often because I don’t know that they are going on. I appreciate your response, Adam.

  174. Craig McFarlane Says:

    Patrick: thank you for your answers. Obviously you are not in a position to answer all of them because they are aimed at some issues that have arisen since your departure from GCAS. I hope Creston is brave enough to return here and make an attempt to address them–without hyperbole, of course. I had no knowledge of your resignation statement given that I do not have a Facebook account.

  175. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    And, Adam, thanks for the comments on the seminar idea and so forth. Yes, that’s what we were looking for. We didn’t start off immediately with the grad school as MA – PhD granting entity, but as a seminar-based thing where credit could be arranged, that would grow into a grad school. But then the interest in our own grad program jumped up, and I reconsidered it. I have ten people right now who would join the doctoral program. And the other dilemma is that if having our own independent graduate program was delayed, then so is whatever process the accreditation takes. So, the thought was to keep that small, but functioning, and use it to tackle accreditation immediately – and I had a plan in place for how to do that. If the GCAS gets this thing off the ground and needs to pursue accreditation, then they can bring me on as a consultant for it if they wish.

    And, you’ve captured my sentiments exactly, Adam. It would be a shame if this thing gets derailed by the bombastic rhetoric. I truly hope that it doesn’t. And please, everyone, give this thing a chance to get beyond that stage, and if it doesn’t, then we gave it due course. There is a good plan here, and it has an incredible amount to offer. I hope it works.

  176. Christopher Says:

    Patrick, it looks like you’ve been removed from the articles of incorporation: http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=20131490362&masterFileId=20131483778

  177. Adam Kotsko Says:

    That does seem like a good reason to get started more quickly on accreditation. Just throwing it out there — trying to figure out dual-degree programs with other institutions could be something to pursue as well.

    Yet with your plea that we not dismiss the concept, we get back to the “personal history” issue — if Creston is being so irresponsible with his rhetoric that you felt you needed to resign to dissociate from it, why should we give it a chance? What possible evidence do we have that it will be run responsibly? I should say that I hardly know Creston personally at all. I don’t think we’ve chatted for more than fifteen minutes total in person, and we’ve had only a few bursts of e-mails over the seven or eight years we’ve been acquainted. All I really know of him is what I’ve seen as a person with broadly overlapping scholarly interests and academic contacts. Several people have claimed that I’m skeptical about the school because I distrust Creston — but I distrust Creston because I’ve watched him do things like this over and over again. It’s not as though there’s some separate “personal thing” between us, though I doubt we’d be close friends even if we were in more regular contact (e.g., taught at the same institution or something). Behavior like what we’re seeing is my “personal problem” with him, which doesn’t strike me as particularly “personal” in the sense people seem to be implying.

  178. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    And thank you for hearing me out here through all of this. I appreciate the chance to break through the initial tone and get to the real stuff.

  179. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    So basically what started as a very interesting project (by all means – I’m likely the only commenter who actually lives in Denver and would not mind checking out a seminar or two, although last time I ventured to RiNo district’s art scene I ended up talking a a drunk professor from a local college about Spanish Civil War for far too long), ended up ruined by idiotic rhetoric and might very well die as a result of all this Facebook shit… It sounds like me like Davis should have been the one leaving, not Provost-Smith – was that ever an option?

  180. Christopher Says:

    Mikhail, at least a person in common to us at Denver will be providing lectures!

  181. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    And yes, Adam, I get your point. I was under the impression that there was a long history there, as I know that there is with Anthony. But also know that although I had to resign to get some distance, I am not giving up on that program, but hoping it works – and part of that was by letting Creston take the reigns himself (since I just couldn’t defend this stuff) and hopefully having it blow over. He’s a really fantastic person with an exceptional intelligence, and he’s a friend. I don’t comment on what is going on now, as I don’t understand the bombast at all. So, I’m asking you all to give it a chance on the same basis that I’m giving it a chance. I’ll do everything I can to help out the GCAS, I just had to give up on co-administering it.

  182. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Thanks, Christopher. I asked for to be removed, since I’m not on the board, but an advisor.

  183. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    I was exploring joint-degree options. I hope that remains on the table as the GCAS proceeds. It is probably the best way to handle moving between inauguration and accreditation. The irony is that students have to be graduated from a degree program in order for the school to be accredited – so the first cohort gets legal, authentic degrees, but no accreditation to back it up. That’s been my concern from the beginning, how to sort out that problem. Joint-degrees is one way to go about it.

  184. Alex Says:

    Following on from Craig’s question, the website for GCAS says that funding is primarily from The New Fund for Graduate Education, which is “is a registered trade name of The Whitestone Foundation”. The White Stone Foundation appears to be, to put it politely, a rather eccentric organisation and fund, that spends money on among other things Anti-Christ Watch and researching biblical codes, fringe science and so on. What is there involvement? What strings come with money from them? It just all seems a bit odd to be honest.

  185. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Alex. To be perfectly honest, no strings come with that foundation. The foundation has hosted a bunch of different things over the years, and frankly I don’t have a clue what they are. It now has a three person board of directors, all of whom are solid and highly regarded academics in established universities. The foundation, under its current board, also hosts the Journal for Critical Religious Theory. The Whitestone Foundation, to my knowledge, isn’t funding the types of things that you describe under this directorship. Whatever it was used for the in the past, I don’t know. I can say that there are no strings attached except those required by the fact that the Whitestone Foundation is a registered 501c3 and has offered to host the fund-raising for the GCAS, who is a non-profit corporation, but whose IRS 501c3 takes a working history to establish, and will take time. It is above board, legal, legitimate, and non-attached to any other kind of agenda. I know the board members, and the history of how they came to be interested in helping out the GCAS while it was establishing its own 501c3 status. This means that funds received as donations have to be used in ways that are regulated by 501c3 standards, and they are not just put into the general operating funds of the GCAS. I hope this helps.

  186. ben Says:

    “Ben. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and hence often use spell check, and sometimes it gets in the way. And I’m typing an awful lot right now, I don’t have time to proofread.”

    Oh, sorry, I thought those were Creston’s hyphens (since the email that Anthony posted had similar hyphens).

  187. Alex Says:

    Perhaps they should change their website if this is the case? Let’s be concrete – one of those people is Carl Raschke. Who are the others? Its pretty regular for funds of this style to state their membership and odd it is all so opaque that I have to ask you the question directly.

  188. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Ben: My apologies, I didn’t realize that you were talking about Creston’s hyphens until afterward. I can’t account for that. :)

  189. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Yes, Carl Raschke is on that board of directors. I don’t know the policy of the board (and don’t have any influence over it), so I’ll e-mail them and find out.

  190. sixfootsubwoofer Says:

    Speaking for myself as well as for a few peers, all of us prospective students of an institution like GCAS, I must say that we would not only appreciate, but demand, that such an institution make it’s entire budget public. And when I say public I mean a page on the website that is a constantly updated, detailed account of all the money that goes in and out of the institution.
    If the excuse for not having such transparency is that it presents a logistical problem, I know of at least three people right now in the Denver area who would volunteer to help do this for free.
    I think it’s not only important for people to know how much Zizek, et al are getting paid, but also having such transparency is just good communist culture.

  191. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Paradoxically, it appears that this comment thread is now the most reliable public record of the original intentions behind GCAS.

  192. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    I’ll pass on the recommendation on the budget to the right people.

  193. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Thanks, Adam. I don’t mean to hijack your blog, so it’s your call whether to keep this open or redirect it. I’ll be glad to keep answering things, as it does appear to have put us all on a better level of understanding, and that is a good thing for all concerned.

  194. robotsdancingalone Says:

    I’d add my thanks to Patrick for such open and sustained engagement here.

  195. Patrick Provost-Smith Says:

    Sorry . . . I was in part responding to the budget question (“demand”) by saying that’s out of my control. But in the spirit of a new awareness of dissembling, let me add this. I can’t make institutional decisions regarding that, but on the level at which I’m speaking right now, it’s an impossible and really irresponsible demand. It’s not anyone else’s business what Zizek is paid, or anyone else. And posting email correspondence that contains information directed to someone else concerning contractual issues with the GCAS (Anthony . . . hear this) is not an acceptable thing. It doesn’t have to contain the “confidentiality waiver” to be treated by people as information not intended for other persons. That isn’t a legal threat, it’s a plea to not do that kind of stuff, which is violation of professional integrity. Budgets are complicated things, and anyone who has tried to assemble one for even a graduate program in an existing university is aware of this. Decisions made concerning expenditures are made by people who have to talk it out and make decisions, to which the general public is not actually a party. Posting budgets like that is not a good thing to do at all, and it certainly can’t be demanded. If you want to know what Zizek makes, go ask him. The GCAS has confidentiality obligations. Whatever communist societies are supposed to do, the GCAS isn’t one because communists serve on the faculty. Let’s be realistic about what transparency means in a complex social and political structure like the one we have, not the one that we wish that it was. Or else everyone from every profession should post their pay, and also their household budget, and also their medical expenses, auto payments, mortgage, all the stuff that goes on. Whatever transparency means, it isn’t that. Same with an institution like the GCAS. But, like I said, they can make that call.

  196. Mark William Westmoreland Says:

    Thanks, Patrick, for sticking it out and answering an array of questions. Also, I appreciate AUFS for making the conversation happen. I do hope that the faculty of GCAS are/become aware of the concerns that have been voiced here.

  197. Adam Kotsko Says:

    And with that, I think I’m going to post the 200th comment and close it down, lest something come along to disturb the peace we have achieved.


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