Neoliberal Sleight of Hand in a University Strategic Plan: Weaponized Sustainability, Strategic Absences, and Magic Time

  • Sandra G. Kouritzin University of Manitoba
  • Satoru Nakagawa University of Manitoba
  • Erica Kolomic University of Manitoba
  • Taylor F. Ellis University of Manitoba

Abstract

This research analyzed the University of Manitoba (UofM) Strategic Plan to both quantify the occurrence of specific keywords and make inferences about the purpose, messages, and effects being communicated by those keywords. In the first section of this paper, we provide an overview of the historical development and purpose of the neoliberal university. Second, we engage with content and critical discourse analysis to understand how academic work and academic identities are established by the strategic plan, a document that few faculty members consult regularly, and fewer still have a hand in developing. The foundational ideals of the UofM, cited at the beginning of the Strategic Plan are tracked through the document, and keywords as determined by frequency count are then similarly tracked. The findings reveal that most of the foundational ideals are not well-represented in the strategic plan; others, like sustainability, are euphemized. Keywords related to increasing workload are found over 60 times in the document, all in the context of decreased funding. We conclude that the strategic plan is a clear mandate for more to be completed with less. We refer to this aspect of workload creep as the need for “magic time.” 

Key words: workload creep, magic time, neoliberalism, higher education, keyword analysis.

Cette recherche a analysé le plan stratégique de l'Université du Manitoba afin de quantifier l'occurrence de mots-clés spécifiques et de faire des inférences sur l'objectif, les messages et les effets communiqués par ces mots-clés. Dans la première section de ce document, nous présentons un aperçu du développement historique et de l'objectif de l'université néolibérale. Ensuite, nous nous engageons dans une analyse du contenu et du discours critique afin de comprendre l’établissement du travail et des identités universitaires par le plan stratégique, un document que peu de membres du corps enseignant consultent régulièrement, et à l'élaboration duquel encore moins participent. La présence des idéaux fondateurs de l'Université du Manitoba, cités au début du plan stratégique, a été suivie tout au long du document et l’emploi des mots-clés, déterminés par le comptage de fréquence, a ensuite été suivi de la même manière. Les résultats révèlent que la plupart des idéaux fondateurs ne sont pas bien représentés dans le plan stratégique ; d'autres, comme la durabilité, sont euphémisés. Les mots-clés liés à l'augmentation de la charge de travail se retrouvent plus de 60 fois dans le document, tous dans le contexte d'une diminution du financement. Nous en concluons que le plan stratégique est un mandat clair pour que l'on fasse plus avec moins. Nous appelons cet aspect de l'augmentation de la charge de travail le besoin de « temps magique ». 

Mots-clés: progression de la charge de travail, temps magique, néolibéralisme, enseignement supérieur, analyse des mots clés

Author Biographies

Sandra G. Kouritzin, University of Manitoba

Sandra G. Kouritzin, Ph.D. is a Professor of Second Language Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. She is currently examining workload creep, its origins and trajectories, in the U15 group of universities in Canada. She also does research on the impact of neoliberal policies on English language instructors in university settings.

Satoru Nakagawa, University of Manitoba

Satoru Nakagawa, Ph.D. is Contract academic staff in Asian Studies (University of Manitoba) and Education (University of Winnipeg). An Indigenous Amami Islander, he pursues research in global Indigenous peoples epistemologies and languages, and is also interested in higher education workload, especially as it pertains to CAS.

Erica Kolomic, University of Manitoba

Erica Kolomic is a M.Ed graduate of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. Now working in Japan, Erica continues to examine issues of neoliberalism in education; she is affiliated with this project as a research assistant to Dr. Sandra Kouritzin.

Taylor F. Ellis, University of Manitoba

Taylor Floyd Ellis is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. Currently studying the historical development of education and linguistic policy in Nunavut, Canada. These are being studied based on their political association with Indigenous sovereignty and relations with Canada as a capitalist State.

Published
2021-05-31
Section
ARTICLES