EDUPUNK won’t die, but faith in universities may

It is almost four years old now, and I swear EDUPUNK won’t die. Maybe that’s not a bad thing either if we can divorce it from a brand as Sarah Cunnane’s article on the topic in Times Higher Education suggests. What’s more, if it might look like anything like what  Stephen Downes frames in the article that would be ideal:

“But if, by contrast, it [EDUPUNK] creates the sort of individual empowerment on a wide-scale basis that we think it can, that would be something that would be celebrated. That was punk: the message wasn’t ‘love our music’; it was ‘anyone can make music.”

But then there is also the theory that EDUPUNK is just transforming into things like ds106, I am not sure if that’s true but I must admit I like the idea of it

Image credit: I am forgetting who did this one, help me!!!

At the same time, it can’t be lost on any of us what dark days have descended upon universities in the U.S. given the militarization of campuses, completely disconnected administration, and horrific acts of violence in the placid face of peaceful protest (which in truth has been going on for well over a year in the UC system). When institutions reveal themselves to be monsters, it makes it hard to read my own quote in the THE article: “That’s why I work for universities: because I believe in them.” It’s becoming harder to believe in the mission of the university when it so stridently manifests itself as a violent extension of the military/corporate state. Sad times, indeed. Check out yesterday’s DTLT Today episode on the topic: “A Dark Moment for Higher Education.”

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11 Responses to EDUPUNK won’t die, but faith in universities may

  1. Alan Levine says:

    EDUPUNK was a concept; ds106 is seeing it in action. Or maybe EDUPUNK is like hearing your friends tal;k about this new music; ds106 is dancing there in the club seeing the band perform.

    Dark days are part of the balance of good/evil. Darkness has to exist to account for the light. Dark days can and should happen, the decisions then become- do we use it as a lesson learned and seek the light? or keep to the dark.

    You gotta keep the hope going. I’m a Churchillian optimist- I don’t see the use in being doing else.

  2. Luke says:

    The modern university has been an extension of the military industrial complex for 60+ years, and yet it’s also always been so much more. Don’t ever lose faith; universities are too important not to fight over. Now that I’m 10+ years into a career there, I am starting to accept and embrace that the conflict is perpetual.

  3. I’ve been thinking that Edupunk and DS106 are more like badges than a brand. Badges that are used by people who self-identify with a group in some way. In the same way that the Creative Commons logo on something is essentially an “I’m not an asshole” badge, Edupunk and DS106 are “I like to play and share” badges. Why does it need to be more than that?

    Branding? Movements? Feh. Fuck bullshit. Let’s make some art, damnit!

  4. Reverend says:

    @Alan and Luke,
    I haven’t lost faith as much as I am deeply sad the movement towards the corporate university has not only starved out public funding and equal access, but turned violent as well. It is a horrific evolution, one that I believe can be worked against—and I plan on it—but at some level also very draining and confusing that it has gotten this far.

    Not sure I would like to see ds106 or EDUPUNK as a badge, because I think that externalizes the process as much as a brand. Maybe the terms aren’t useful beyond that, and even blogging about it feels weird after so much time. But I don’t hate the idea of a loosely connected movement that shares some principles just like you are saying: “I like to play and share and I think the corporatization of highered is making us zombies.” 🙂

  5. ok. badge was a bad word for what I meant. I don’t care about silly banner images on a blog claiming affiliation or bragging something. What I meant is a statement of self-identity, an internally-defined aspect, rather than an externally-defined or -provided one. If the system is the problem, fuck the system. Ignore it. Move on. What does that look like? I don’t know. But watching the world burn, and waiting for something new to solve everything, isn’t going to do anything. The world isn’t going anywhere. The system is entrenched. But we aren’t. We can choose to be part of something else (not greater, just different) by simply doing just that. I’ve been thinking more and more about abandoning the Cause as lost, but reframing it in a new way. Which I haven’t gotten my head around yet.

  6. Brian says:

    This is one of those difficult, but unmistakeable moments where people define themselves, and where their actions define their values more clearly than vague statements of principle ever can.

    I remain pessimistic where all this will take us… but I am grateful at least some people are demonstrating courage and integrity.

    Nice post, and as ever I took heart listening to the DTLT discussion.

  7. Reverend says:


    This is one of those difficult, but unmistakeable moments where people define themselves, and where their actions define their values more clearly than vague statements of principle ever can.

    You have no idea how much this one stings given I have been doing everything in my power to keep from leaving UMW to take another job so I can actually pay my bills without selling my soul. I feel my own vague statements of principle compromised more and more all the time—I guess you can’t live a wrong life rightly, right?

    I think this is where the righteousness gets me in trouble, just talking about EDUPUNK, principles, and the like kinda makes me feel dirty these days. I may be beyond the pale. I need some drugs.

  8. Brian says:

    You know, that passage you quote didn’t feel right when I wrote it, and now I wish I hadn’t done it. I had just finished watching the DTLT Today discussion, and as usual you guys got me simultaneously worked up and depressed. I was referring to the likes of Obama, or feckless university administrators who like to make speeches about enduring values of justice and freedom, but are at best weak and more likely complicit in obvious injustice and disastrous policies.

    But yes, we are all complicit to varying degrees. And that awareness has made it hard for me to think this stuff through coherently. I started and trashed a half dozen posts on this topic lately… When writing on this stuff I invariably detect a strong whiff of that unseemly righteousness you refer to, and like you I end up feeling dirty.

    Here in Vancouver, there has been a strong backlash against the Occupiers, even amongst the “progressives”. I suspect a lot of unexamined classism is at work… This disrespect shown by ostensibly liberal people gets to me. I have attended a few of the local GA’s… and while there are a lot of damaged and messed-up people in those tents, there are also a lot of sincere and committed citizens who are doing all they can think to do to make a difference. Maybe the tactics are off, but if the critics have better ideas I wish they would act on them with anything like the Occupiers’ urgency and commitment. I stick up for the Occupiers in conversation when it comes up, but I have refrained from about 1000 Twitter replies because I feel it is pointless to engage such a layered issue in that medium…

    As a wise man said in a movie “aw, look at me, I’m ramblin’ again….” I’ll shut ‘er down. Keep the faith Reverend. And keep the doubt too.

    • Reverend says:

      The fact that it stings me says more about my conscience and headspace over the last few months more than anything else. It just seems interesting to be paralleling this movement as a kind of historical backdrop and at once completely associating with the general disgust at bank and corporate greed while at the same time pimping everything just get by. It’s an interesting moment and I have more respect for the momentum of history than I usually do, but I hope to be more than a helpless spectator these days. And then there is middle management :: FML

  9. onepercentyellow says:

    When you remain skeptical that you’re doing enough of the right thing to make a difference and carry the weight of those moments of inaction with you, you know you’re on the right track. You do realize there are many who do nothing and feel nothing? Not to pat any of you folks on the back, but I find it surprising to hear such guilt over what you are not doing. Remember, you’re part of the solution.

    and we can’t change it all at once.

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