About the Center

The Center for the Study of Academic Labor (CSAL) promotes research and scholarship on the transformation of academic labor in higher education, including but not limited to scholarship on contingency and tenure.

The teaching mission of higher education, and the system of academic labor that puts it into practice, are under threat from escalating tuition costs, competition from on-line alternatives, shrinking state support for higher education, and administrative spending priorities. CSAL seeks to build a multidisciplinary network of scholars who have particular interests in the dramatic growth of contingent faculty throughout all of higher education and its impact on educational outcomes, faculty governance, academic freedom, the culture of higher education, and academic workers themselves. In so doing, CSAL carves out an area of research and publication—a scholarship home–for what some have called contingency studies.

The Center invites discussion of the characteristics and working conditions of contingent faculty, the academic labor market, university budgets, academic employment policies, and the future of the tenure system. CSAL supports investigation and publication by all ranks of faculty, including those off the tenure-track.

Practically speaking, CSAL analyzes data, publishes reports, develops citation sets and bibliographies, and maintains databases on topics such as the New Faculty Majority’s “Women and Contingency” project. Additionally, CSAL offers a photo-multimedia archive suitable for analysis and also reports on site-specific, grassroots inquiry approaches that show promise for adaptation to new locations. A journal, book series, and conference are in the planning stages and lie in the near future.

CSAL promotes respect for all faculty, fair treatment of all faculty, and dedication to the teaching mission of higher education.

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