USF has been online for five weeks, and preparing to be online during a summer, when (according to the optimists) the pandemic will dry out or (according to the pessimists) the pandemic will go crackling from city to city like a gunpowder fuse. The scenarios for normalcy seem to involve massive antibody testing, effective anti-virals, armies of health workers, widely distributed vaccines, and great caution. The mathematical models of the pandemic are works in progress, and the virus itself may hold some surprises.
But there's got to be a morning after, and while we do not know when and what that morning will be, we can remember (if you forgive the hyperbole) the European Renaissance emerging from the carnage of the Black Death. We should think not only about how we will make it through the night, but also about what we want the morning to look like.
Added in press: we are sorry to report the passing of Roy Weatherford, who helped organize the United Faculty of Florida, served as statewide president, and later as president of the USF Chapter. We will have more in the next issue.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on Zoom. On the agenda: the summer schedule, plans for summer, plans for fall, consolidation, ...
We will meet on April 24. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary. Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.
Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.
In order to be a member of UFF, one has to join. To join, download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. Come and join the movement.
The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Research & Instructional Scholarships for spring, summer and fall. This will be for research and instructional expenses (not excluding travel). All applications are due by Wednesday, May 6, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the 2019 cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply, and members of the Executive Committee are ineligible. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the May 8 chapter meeting. For more information, see the Research & Instruction Scholarships Flyer.
This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, contact the Membership Chair, Debbie Sinclair (click here).
If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the online contact form. For more information, see our web-page on grievances.
Yes, we are on social media.
Like much of the globe, we are physically - and therefore socially - distancing. Suddenly and unexpectedly forced online, both teachers and students are trying to finish the semester. Among K-12 students, some were not as proficient with computers as teachers had hoped while some did not even have the necessary equipment, the result being that many students are behind and some seniors are not ready for college in fall. And teachers and administrators worry about fall.
Meanwhile, summer is coming. School will be out for summer. School provided a structure of online social interaction, and as the Guardian recently warned, isolation can affect physical and mental health. That includes frustration, as measured by the recent spike in domestic violence (a phenomenon that is happening locally).
Fall may be closer than we think, but barring a sudden technological fix to the pandemic - not impossible but not likely either - this will be a long summer. Our teaching has gone online, the library is closed (but we have substantial access), many seminar and colloquium series have been suspended, plans for collaboration have been upended, and as for conferences this year, some have simply pushed back everything a year and some are bravely planning to meet in August in the hope that the pandemic will have receded by then.
But as we can see from the travel scholarship article below, some seminar series have gone online. In fact, some conferences have gone online. Nowhere as good - after a talk, how can participants retire to a nearby tavern to discuss the geometry of viral capsids? - but better than stewing in isolation.
This brings us back to basics about how scholarship works. While the heroic model of academia may be good for the ego, many scholars of academia increasingly see our enterprise as a social and incremental one. Networks are all the rage, as we can see from works like...
Recently, networks have gone online. While both both Nature and PNAS have run articles online collaboration and communication among scientists, the instant classic is probably Eric Raymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar (later expanded into a book available in the USF Library). Like Ferguson (who contrasted the hierarchical tower versus the democratic square), Raymond contrasted the "cathedral" model of software development (done in institutional labs and presented to the public only when complete) versus the "bazaar" model (in which the public is invited - with restrictions, of course - to participate in the development). Raymond's account is a description of a network at work.
So we rely on networks, and during this pandemic, maintaining the networks we depend on - not just putting them in suspended animation for the duration - is a priority. Online presentations may be problematic - participants cannot retire to a tavern afterwards to discuss Leibniz's relationship with Spinoza - but one can still have an online conversation afterwards. But remembering Ferguson's Tower and Square, relying on the people in the Tower to save the day means surrendering the initiative to them. When the day comes that all of us are either vaccinated or testing positive for antibodies (or both), and the virus has become a manageable nuisance, whoever took the initiative and maintained the social infrastructure will have profoundly influenced what the morning after looks like. The time to start thinking ahead is now.
Lisa Starks is a professor of English in the USF St. Petersburg Department of Verbal & Visual Arts. She received a $ 500 travel scholarship to attend the 48th meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America, which was to be held in Denver this month. Unfortunately, the meeting was cancelled. But not daunted, a number of seminars were held online. This is her account.
In 2020, Melissa Croteau and I co-led a seminar on The Supernatural and Transcendent in Shakespeare on Screen for the Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting in April, 2020. Seminar work begins months in advance: participants share abstracts, papers, and paper responses beginning in December until the date of the conference. The work culminates in a 2-hour seminar discussion at the conference itself. This year, the conference was to be held in Denver from April 15-18. The physical meeting was cancelled due to the Coronavirus, but seminars continued on online platforms. Although I didn’t have travel expenses, I did still pay registration and membership, which the UFF grant covered. (I also took an unfunded research trip to London back in January, where I did archival work related to the seminar topic and my upcoming book project.) Fortunately, the virtual seminar was a great success! After Melissa and I shared clips from the films under discussion, our first respondent provided opening remarks. Then we led discussion with each group of participants, followed by commentary from our second respondent. Once the groups concluded, our third respondent provided the Afterword. Besides co-leading this seminar, I served as a mentor for an early career scholar in a program called Articles in Progress. She and I met virtually on April 17 to discuss her work and future employment options. Although this year’s conference was different, it most certainly was productive for me and, I hope, for my colleagues and mentee.
Editorial comment. Even during a pandemic, scholarly activity continues, and that includes communication, interaction, and collaboration. It would be interesting to compare the long-term outcomes of cancelling conferences versus putting them online: which ones get greater attendance and participation in the long run?
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, April 24, at noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.the Chapter Secretary. Come and join the movement.
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