<agu> how to build up a global autonomous university?

excotc excotc at gmail.com
Sun Jun 1 16:57:58 CEST 2008

Hi All!

This is David Boehnke from the Experimental College of the Twin Cities (
www.EXCOtc.org) and I should note that in this post I am writing as an
individual, not as a sanctioned representative of my organization.

I would like to respond to the outline of the central points identified
above with a few questions/points of reference. Why not liven things up a
bit? Would love to hear your thoughts!

In what ways does this notion of "university" help us, in that it seems to
rely on 1) a central location and 2) a privileged circle of knowledge
producers... in what ways is that privilege justified/objectionable? This
brings up the specter of the organic or non-professional intellectual, and
it is here, with professional salaries, that most of the funding questions
play out.

In this and things like distance learning, free education, etc, a tension
arises between the world we want and the world that the enemies are
building, and, as Jameson would point out, we have similar reference points
in terms of where the possibilities lie. As such our project is inherently
an ambivalent one, but perhaps more importantly...it may be wise to consider
organizing our projects in forms that capitalism must inherently oppose? at
least if generalized to a scale whereby they are not a supplement
(Wikipedia, non-copyright, free, commons, etc as examples of these

I love the idea of an online newspaper, specifically if it focuses on
models, that is organizations, struggles, campaigns, and processes that are
replicable anywhere but also that can be experimented with and deepened in
multiple directions. However, I also note the intensiveness of such a task,
particularly for those who are already doing work of whatever kind and would
push us to deliberately meet such a resource to our capacity and to include
multiple ways people can get their word out without formal process (on the
internet)...as for numbers twice a year? 4 times a year?

Lastly, in reference to auto-education projects, I want to stress the
importance of both internal and external struggle in relation to the
university, both maintaining and growing critical potentials within
institutions and building the structures that we want outside of the
institutions. Collective independent studies, at least in this country, seem
like a useful road to do both of these things, as it allows students to get
credit for whatever work is deemed most useful and provides a shortcut both
to greater involvement in struggles but also, if desired, greater ability to
take part in publishing at an early age. Moreover, university-community
initiatives in a volunteer frame outside of typical academic practice, seem
uniquely suited to have powerful impacts, and also to grow non-university
spaces of power/knowledge while being seeded by the relatively larger
resources of universities themselves...

What do you think? Hope this finds you well!


exco volunteer organizer, mpls mn, usa

To start the discussion, we have identified some central points in the
attempt to realize the project:

•     The questions of curriculum of the new institutional form, of academic
labor, and their conflictual collocation within intellectual property

•     The legal question about the possibility of obtaining accreditation as
official university (we do not think that the recognition is the aim of an
autonomous institution, but it does provide the possibility to open a
conflict around the accreditation system, the measurement of quality, and
the award of degrees);

•     The obtainment of the funds in order to support the project;

•     The role of socio-technical networks such as the Internet, as well as
open access and open source technologies (we know that e-learning and
distance learning are part of the corporate lexicon, often used to precarize
labor power and to dematerialize the relations between teachers and
students; our problem is to use the technological tools in order to
experiment with transnational autonomous connections, to build up 'organized

•     The proposal of a free newspaper (which would be made available in pdf
format on the Internet so that edu-factory participants around the world can
print it up and distribute within their various political contexts) and
video-interviews as research materials
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