Limerick Workshop (24-27 November 2015)

‘The Crisis and Academia (or) The Crisis in Academia’

Organised by Lee Monaghan and Micheal O’Flynn

part of the series of events, related to the Open University coordinated international project “Framing Financial Crisis and Protest: North-West and South-East Europe

Co-organised by Irish Research Council (IRC) funded project ‘Equality of Opportunity in Practice: Studies in Working, Learning and Caring

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In Ireland, as elsewhere, various actors and institutions have been pilloried for their failure to anticipate the collapse of the economy and/or related social and political consequences. Targets for opprobrium include academics, such as economists, sociologists and political scientists. A major criticism following the 2008 global financial crash and subsequent Great Recession is that academics have failed to provide coherent explanations for what is happening. In 2012 Guardian journalist Aditya Chakrabortty implied that in this respect the social sciences are well on their way to irrelevance,[i] which provoked a strong formal response from the British Sociological Association.[ii] Against this backdrop, the Limerick workshops will examine the following themes: how the social, economic political crises of our time have been interpreted by academics; the (constrained) opportunities for critical scholarship and academic freedom in an age of austerity and increasing inequity (e.g. in terms of class, gender and ethnicity); the commercialisation of higher-level education and its long-term consequences; the impact on staff (i.e. job security and conditions) and students (i.e. student fees and student debt); the potential of academics to challenge the powerful and/or give the powerless ‘weapons to fight with’. The Limerick Workshops will highlight related issues in Ireland, and will link/contrast these with developments in Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus and the UK through contributions from participants in the wider project as well.

[i] On 16 April 2012 Aditya Chakrabortty wrote an article in the Guardian criticising sociology in the UK and US for insufficiently tackling the origins of the current recession. Available at:

[ii] In response to Chakrabortty’s Guardian article, the British Sociological Association (BSA) put together a long response, summarising the work of UK and US sociologists on the financial crisis and its origins.


Day 1 – 24 November — Health Sciences Building, HSG021

9.45 Welcome

10.00-1.00: Session 1: ‘Interpreting the Crisis’ – Chair: Suman Gupta

Terrence McDonough: Orthodox Economics and the Crisis.

Julien Mercille: What Role for the Social Sciences in Public Debates?

Break: 11.30

Tao Papaioannou: The changing media politics of dissent: Representations of anti-austerity protests in national and international public service media.

Mike HajiMichael: Power of Words

Workshop Questions: (a) How can/should academics theorize/conceptualise/research the crisis? (b) Where has academia succeeded in shedding light on the crisis? Where has it failed? (c) What is the proper role of academics in a time of crisis? Public intellectual? Defender of the status quo? (d) Does academia have a responsibility to act as a watchdog on power?


Lunch break 1.00 -2.00


2.00 – 5.00: Session 2: ‘Corporate control of higher-education’ – Chair: TBA

Claire O’Hagan & Pat O’Connor: Academic career practices: embedding gendered academic capitalism cross nationally.

Carmel Hannan: Playing the Academic Game and the role of Public Sociology.

Break: 3.30

Mariya Ivancheva & Kathryn Keating: Precarious Employment in Higher Education.

Kathleen Lynch: On the Market: the egalitarian implications of commercialisation in higher education.


Workshop Questions: (a) Can a case be made for corporate funding of higher education in a time of crisis? (b) Is the commercialisation of higher education compatible with its perceived public function? (c) Who (dis)benefits, domestically or internationally from the commercialisation of higher education? (d) What are the consequences for scholarship? What are the consequences for students? (e) Are there implications for gender equity?


7.00 Meal in Copper & Spice, plus music in Herbert’s (pub)


Day 2 – 25 November – UL  (Room CG054)

10:00-1:00: Session 3: ‘Academia Under Austerity’ – Chair Mariya Ivancheva

Dobrinka Parusheva: ‘Crisis 2.0: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in times of austerity’

Mike Hajimichael: ‘Graduate unemployment in post-haircut Cyprus – where have all the students gone?’

Break: 11.30

Eleni Andriakaina: ‘Planning Modernization, Designing An Ideal Kingdom in the East, Building a Utopia. Some thoughts on the relationship between Social Sciences and Social Engineering.

Theodoros A. Spyros: ‘Intellectuals, class elitism and post-democratic governance: the euro-reformistic narrative in Crisis-ridden Greece’


Workshop Questions: (a) Are academics agents of neoliberalism? (b) What working relationships exist between academics and other agents/institutions, such as the media, government? (c) What are the implications for academics that wish to promote, challenge or debate austerity? (d) How does this manifest in different national contexts?


Lunch break 1.00 – 2.00


2.30 – 3.30 Day trip to regeneration area in Limerick city (tour guide Cathal McCarthy).

4.00 – 6.00 Visit to Limerick Mechanics Institute.

Session 4: ‘Scholarship and Activism’

Mary O’Donnell: The mechanics institute and the women’s movement in Limerick

Micheal O’Flynn & Aggelos Panayiotopolous: Activism in Education (or) Education in Activism

John Bissett: Housing Action Now and the development of a broad based housing campaign.

Workshop Questions: (a) Is it possible to advance egalitarian theory and practice within institutions that are anti-egalitarian? (b) Can radical academics presume to speak for the working class? Can the working class find a voice within academia? (c) Is it possible for self-auditing academics to develop emancipatory forms of research? (d) Is it possible/necessary to develop radical education, scholarship and research-based activism outside of/apart from professional academia?


7.00 Dinner Cornstore (bus 10.45 @ Brown Thomas on O’Connell Street)


Day 3 – 26 November – UL (Room P1005)

10.00 – 12.00: Session 5: (In)equality within and without academia

Suman Gupta: Rationalising Teaching.

Karim Murji: Race Critical Public Scholarship.

Helen Yanacopulos: Academics Stand Against Poverty.


Workshop Questions: (a) Is it possible to advance egalitarian theory and practice within institutions that are anti-egalitarian? (b) Can radical academics presume to speak for oppressed groups? (c) Is it possible for self-auditing academics to develop emancipatory forms of research?


Lunch break: 12.00 – 1.00


1.00 – 3.00: Session 6: Roundtable: Solutions? What now?

Notes from day 1 (moderator TBA)

Notes from day 2 (moderator TBA)

Notes from day 3 (moderator TBA)

Workshop Questions: (a) What have been the main issues/problems raised over the last three days? (b) Are these issues/problems resolvable? (c) What are the obstacles? Are there worthwhile strategies?

5.00 (Bus from Kilmurray) Bunratty Castle & Banquet


Day 4 – 27 November – UL (CG054)

10.00 – 1.00 Organising meeting for Bulgarian and Greek workshops (with break: 11.30)

Lunch – 1.00 – 2.00

Workshop programme: ‘The Crisis and Academia (or) The Crisis in Academia’ (Limerick 24-27 Nov 2015)
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