Incite Seminars

For Education: The College Classroom as Concrete Utopia, Nov. 9

Posted on October 22, 2019

If we assume the capture of the American university by the “national economic dogma,” as Nietzsche called education in the service of money-making careerism, what concrete actions might a change-minded instructor take? The goal of this seminar is to spark a spirited discussion around this basic, yet potentially productive, question.

Two fertile assumptions that will be on the table for discussion are encapsulated in the quotes above: (1) current models of instruction, however adept at contributing to the workforce, simultaneously contribute to students’ alienation (from their own interests and abilities, from one another, from possibility), and function to diminish their intellectual capacity; (2) while the institutional space of the classroom is currently a site of status-quoist control and maintenance, it is potentially one of invigorating new vectors of personal discovery and social practice.

In addition to an open discussion, this seminar will offer strategies for realizing change in the classroom. Derived from socialist and anarchist thought, these strategies include: the political theory of prefiguration; the concept of concrete utopia; the social theory of the spectacle, the pedagogical practice of unlearning; and the ethics of the worst necessary.

Facilitator: Glenn Wallis holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University. He is the author of six books including Cruel Theory/Sublime Practice and Basic Teachings of the Buddha as well as numerous articles, chapters, and essays on various aspects of Buddhism per se and Western Buddhism in contemporary society. His most recent work, A Critique of Western Buddhism: Ruins of the Buddhist Real, employs the “non-philosophical” methods of French thinker François Laruelle. Wallis has taught at Brown University, Bowdoin College, and the University of Georgia. He is the founder of the blog Speculative Non-Buddhism.

Date: November 9, Saturday, 10am-2pm
Cost: Pay-what-you-can, up to $90
Place: The Bourse, 111 S. Independence Mall East, Suite 500, Philadelphia. Map.
Reading: Glenn Wallis, For Education: The College Classroom as Concrete Utopia
Additional resources: Richard Wolff, “Grades Are Capitalism in Action. Let’s Get Them Out of Our Schools;” João França and Henry Giroux, “Education Should Not Be Neutral.”


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