Radical Academics

Rita Pougiales, Evergreen State College

Curricular and administrative fragmentation remains the most serious problem we face as we reconsider what it means for us to be a public, interdisciplinary, liberal arts college. A recommitment to being an interdisciplinary and liberal arts college must begin with a realignment of structures and practices within the college, and a curricular transformation that encompasses ethical and moral concerns. This goes hand-in-hand with Freire’s concept of conscienzation, a critical cognitive awareness of the relationship between day-to-day knowledge and relations of power. A public, through deliberation, can exercise both judgment and authority. Members of a college can influence not only organizational structures and values through deliberation but also establish an epistemological relationship between the faculty and the curriculum.

Radical academics seek to understand current knowledge and, simultaneously, the cultural and political forces sustaining that knowledge.

Interdisciplinary work is not a peaceful operation: it begins effectively when the solidarity of the old disciplines breaks down… to the benefits of a new object and a new language, neither of which is in the domain of those branches of knowledge that one calmly sought to confront.