posted by CAA — August 09, 2016
CAA has signed onto the letter reprinted below, written by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) on July 21, 2016, and signed by dozens of organizations. To read the full list of signatories, please visit the MESA website.
Threats to Academic Freedom and Higher Education in Turkey
The above listed organizations collectively note with profound concern the apparent moves to dismantle much of the structure of Turkish higher education through purges, restrictions, and assertions of central control, a process begun earlier this year and accelerating now with alarming speed.
As scholarly associations, we are committed to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression. The recent moves in Turkey herald a massive and virtually unprecedented assault on those principles. One of the Middle East region’s leading systems of higher education is under severe threat as a result, as are the careers and livelihoods of many of its faculty members and academic administrators.
Our concern about the situation in Turkish universities has been mounting over the past year, as Turkish authorities have moved to retaliate against academics for expressing their political views—some merely signing an “Academics for Peace” petition criticizing human rights violations.
Yet the threat to academic freedom and higher education has recently worsened in a dramatic fashion. In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt of July 15–16, 2016, the Turkish government has moved to purge government officials in the Ministry of Education and has called for the resignation of all university deans across the country’s public and private universities. As of this writing, it appears that more than 15,000 employees at the education ministry have been fired and nearly 1,600 deans—1,176 from public universities and 401 from private universities—have been asked to resign. In addition, 21,000 private school teachers have had their teaching licenses cancelled. Further, reports suggest that travel restrictions have been imposed on academics at public universities and that Turkish academics abroad were required to return to Turkey. The scale of the travel restrictions, suspensions, and imposed resignations in the education sector seemingly go much farther than the targeting of individuals who might have had any connection to the attempted coup.
The crackdown on the education sector creates the appearance of a purge of those deemed inadequately loyal to the current government. Moreover, the removal of all of the deans across the country represents a direct assault on the institutional autonomy of Turkey’s universities. The replacement of every university’s administration simultaneously by the executive-controlled Higher Education Council would give the government direct administrative control of all Turkish universities. Such concentration and centralization of power over all universities is clearly inimical to academic freedom. Moreover, the government’s existing record of requiring university administrators’ to undertake sweeping disciplinary actions against perceived opponents—as was the case against the Academics for Peace petition signatories—lends credence to fears that the change in university administrations will be the first step in an even broader purge against academics in Turkey.
Earlier this year, it was already clear that the Turkish government, in a matter of months, had amassed a staggering record of violations of academic freedom and freedom of expression. The aftermath of the attempted coup may have accelerated those attacks on academic freedom in even more alarming ways.
As scholarly organizations, we collectively call for respect for academic freedom—including freedom of expression, opinion, association, and travel—and the autonomy of universities in Turkey, offer our support to our Turkish colleagues, second the Middle East Studies Association’s “call for action” of January 15, request that Turkey’s diplomatic interlocutors (both states and international organizations) advocate vigorously for the rights of Turkish scholars and the autonomy of Turkish universities, suggest other scholarly organizations speak forcefully about the threat to the Turkish academy, and alert academic institutions throughout the world that Turkish colleagues are likely to need moral and substantive support in the days ahead.
Organizations wishing to be included as signatories on the above statement should contact Amy Newhall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DeWitt Godfrey, professor of art and art history at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, is president of the CAA Board of Directors.
CAA is moving ahead on several strategic goals. After a year of investigation and discussion with over 200 artists, art historians, curators, editors and reproduction rights officers, Professors Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi are drafting the new Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in the Visual Arts which will be reviewed by the Task Force on Fair Use, the Committee on Intellectual Property, the Professional Practices Committee, and an independent Legal Advisory Committee. We anticipate that the code will be presented at the Annual Conference in February 2015.
At the October 26th Board meeting, the formation of two task forces was approved: one to review CAA’s governance structure, and one to review its professional committees. As a greater number of faculty are now part-time, the board and committee requirements have to be adjusted so that the best expertise is brought to CAA within the most economical timeframes. The Board also had a lively discussion on the best directions to be taken regarding advocacy and how CAA can respond quickly and efficiently to issues that affect members’ daily work. We are exploring the creation of a task force on advocacy.
The CAA Board and senior staff held a day-long retreat which focused on a vision for the future of the annual conference—a more flexible structure, greater opportunities for interdisciplinary discussion, serving the needs and interests at each stage of a career in the visual arts, and the ability to quickly address issues that arise in the field, have an international perspective and participation, and reach those members who are not able to attend the conferences.
New, updated volumes of the Directories of Graduate Programs are now available through CAA’s website. From the data published in the directories, CAA will draw statistical information about all the visual-arts subdisciplines, mapping important changes in the field regarding enrollment and employment. We plan to make information from the past four years available to members in the coming months.
The September issue of The Art Bulletin features the third essay in the “Whither Art History?” series, as well as essays on Jan van Eyck and commemorative art, Hans Burgkmair and recognition, Watteau and reverie, and contemporary Indian Art from the 1985-86 Festival of India. The latest issue of Art Journal includes a forum called “Red Conceptualismos del Sur/Southern Conceptualisms Network,” featuring articles printed in their original Spanish and Portuguese alongside new English translations—this is the first foray into multilingual publishing for CAA. Art Journal Open’s first web editor, Gloria Sutton, associate professor at Northeastern University, has commissioned features from the artist Karen Schiff and the new-media historian Mike Maizels, as well as a dialogue between the curator Becky Huff Hunter and the artist Tamarin Norwood. The vision for this website is to provide an online space for artists’ works, experimental scholarship, and conversations among arts practitioners. And caa.reviews, now open access, includes nearly 2,500 reviews of books, exhibition catalogues, and conferences on art, as well as an annual list of completed and in-progress art history dissertations. Thirty-four field editors commission reviewers to address new publications, exhibitions, and exhibition catalogues and videos in every area of the visual arts. The new copublishing relationship between CAA and Taylor & Francis that supports all three CAA journals will complete its first year this month with a marked increase in readership. We are encouraging authors to use the multimedia resources offered at Taylor & Francis Online as well as its citation app.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded CAA and the Society for Architectural Historians a grant to cooperatively carry out research and develop guidelines in digital art and architectural history for promotion and tenure in the workforce. With the increased use of digital platforms in research and publishing there is a need for guidelines that reflect the best practice in evaluating digital art and architectural history. A task force will be formed of two art historians, two architectural historians, a librarian, a museum curator, a scholar from another humanities or social science field with expertise in digital scholarship, and a graduate student or emerging professional in art history or architectural history. CAA will hire a part-time researcher to gather information on current practices from faculty members throughout the country. Please see the Online Career Center for the listing.
CAA, like other learned, membership societies, faces significant challenges and opportunities for the future. The changing landscape of publication, academic workforce issues, advocating for the arts and humanities, serving a changing membership and the field are areas where CAA has and will continue to make a difference, by building on our legacy of leadership and embracing the necessary changes required to meet our mission and vision.
Each fall the ACLS convenes a meeting for the chief administrative officers (CAOs) of learned societies to exchange information on new developments in our organizations and to explore possible conference sites. This year’s conference was held in Louisville, KY. My takeaways from Louisville were the unforgettable gleaming white nine-ton Carrara marble statue of Louis XVI (the city’s namesake) by Achille-Joseph-Étienne Valois (1829) commissioned in 1829 by the king’s surviving daughter Marie-Thérèse which stands in front of the Louisville City Hall; and the contemporary art museum-cum-hotel called 21C with an installation of Pierre Gonnord’s striking photos of people in rural Spain and a great menu at the restaurant called Proof (as in bourbon).
Among the new developments within the 50 associations that attended were:
- A new census that will gather vital information on all the associations in ACLS to better gauge the trends in the humanities field;
- The success of the ACLS Public Fellows program where fellows are placed in government and non-profit sector positions http://www.acls.org/research/publicfellows.aspx?id=7006;
- The positive reaction to the copublishing agreement between CAA and Taylor & Francis and the transition to online publishing (in addition to print) for The Art Bulletin and Art Journal and open access for caa.reviews in the spring https://www.collegeart.org/news/2013/11/05/caa-journals-to-be-published-by-taylor-francis/ and http://www.collegeart.org/publications/copublicationFAQs;
- The new public resource from the Society for Architectural History’s image encyclopedia of 1,200 American architectural images called ARCHIPEDIA http://sah-archipedia.org/;
- The Modern Language Association’s new social media site for members, MLA Commons http://commons.mla.org/ and plans to expand it for use by other academic associations;
- The National Humanities Alliance’s new advocacy initiative Video Resources http://www.nhalliance.org/ which presents the value of the humanities to the public;
- New digital extensions to annual conferences such as CAA’s conference app (available prior to the February 2014 conference in Chicago) that allow registrants to organize their own schedule of sessions and events; streaming conference sessions, YouTube and podcasts of sessions; and a parallel digital conference offered by the Association of College and Research Libraries http://www.ala.org/acrl/conferences;
- The Renaissance Society’s free access to Early English Books Online (EEOB) for their members www.rsa.org/news/146393/The-RSA-Announces-Early-English-Books-Online-EEBO-Database-Access-as-a-New-Member-Benefit.htm;
- The advocacy work of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies related to fair use and film clips, teach-ins in conference city high schools, an oral history program of members and forming an undergraduate research conference http://www.cmstudies.org/;
- Online courses on professional development organized by the College Forum of the National Council of the Teachers of English http://www.ncte.org/online-learning/courses;
- The need to advocate for the restoration of Title VI and IX funds for foreign language education through the State Department
The CAOs also heard presentations from the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature on how these societies dealt with the threat of union strikes at their conference hotels.
Trevor Parry-Giles of the National Communication Association presented a history of the development of impact factors and the pros and cons, inflation and gaming of current systems such as Thomson Reuters http://thomsonreuters.com/journal-citation-reports/, SCImago http://www.scimagojr.com/, Google Scholar Metrics http://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=top_venues; and the latest metric under development, Microsoft Academic http://academic.research.microsoft.com/?SearchDomain=3&entitytype=2 . Digital factors have yet to be fully addressed such as counting downloads versus citations and tracing social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
In 1964 the ACLS supported a Commission on the Humanities whose report eventually led to the establishment of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of the recommendations from the Commission were to fund the humanities at the level of the sciences, give more national emphasis on higher education humanities, attract a more diverse faculty, and a demand for faculty to work together. Three learned societies compared then and now. It was noted that there was enormous expansion in humanities departments in the 1960s and so many teaching positions that PhD candidates left school before finishing their degrees to take teaching positions. While the humanities have not attracted a more diverse faculty and faculty positions and departments have been compressed, one very positive result is that faculty has embraced collaboration in both formal (humanities and digital humanities centers) and informal ways, and advocacy of higher education in the public sphere has assisted greater understanding of the value of a humanities education.