Creative Responses to Crisis in Education: An SCFA Small Grants Program
This fall the Santa Cruz Faculty Association chose recipients from among a strong pool of applications for its second annual program of small grants—ranging from $1500 to $10,000—for projects led by Academic Senate faculty at UC Santa Cruz. The mission and purpose of these grants addresses a need seldom met in UC funding sources: to encourage a connection between university research and our increasingly crucial advocacy of the idea of the public university.
Public research institutions have long been sources of strength for diverse intellectual, economic, and cultural dimensions of society. More recently, in the shadow of economic crises, public dialogue on the struggles of higher education has been focused on tuition and the costs associated with serving a growing number of students. But universities are not mere service providers and students are not mere consumers; they are larger communities of endeavor that draw innovation, ingenuity, and critical thinking together, sometimes from great distances, for common purposes.
The Santa Cruz Faculty Association’s second annual grant program aims to direct some of the energy and creativity of the UCSC community toward research that foregrounds the broadest definitions of the university and its role in society. We received a number of interesting proposals for projects dealing with the struggles of higher education. We have funded two projects which we feel respond to the needs of our university at this time of crisis. Congratulations to the award recipients.
#1) Santa Cruz Commons: An Activist Research Project , Helene Moglen, Research Professor, Literature
Participants in Santa Cruz Commons are community activists and activist academics who are seeking innovative solutions at the local level to social and economic problems that seem intransigent in a national context. Beginning in January 2012, representatives of local non-profit agencies and members of the UCSC faculty have been strategizing about the creation of collaborative forms of research and social activism. Their goals are to make the progressive work of the campus and the community visible and to define organizational forms and areas of research that will engage community problems, facilitate advocacy, and support partnerships that benefit the university and the county. The SCFA Grants Committee was impressed by the political imagination this project displayed and by its excellent public outreach/community building components. In many ways, this project makes concrete the value of a research university to its local community.
#2) Budget Cut Impact Survey: A Cross-Disciplinary, University-Wide Analysis, Miriam Greenberg, (Sociology) with Vanita Seth (Politics), Megan Thomas (Politics) and additional support from Ronnie Lipschutz (Politics) Deborah Gould (Sociology) and Chelsea Blackmore (Anthropology)
The members of this team propose to do a survey of faculty from across all major fields at UCSC on the impact of the budget cuts. We were all impressed by the way that this project makes use of faculty research skills to document the impact of budget cuts upon the university, and by their plan to disseminate the findings widely so as to make the most possible political impact.