Inside the Covid-Induced Collapse of American Higher Education

SUNY Albany associate professor Aaron Major takes stock of the academic labor movement and its post-pandemic future.

Maximillian Alvarez

State University of New York in Albany, NY. Rick Friedman / Getty Images

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COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world of higher education: forced campus re-openings have pushed many directly into harm’s way; colleges and universities have suffered massive budget shortfalls; some institutions have closed permanently; the academic job market has been blown up; etc. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the U.S. Labor Department has estimated that American academic institutions have shed a net total of at least 650,000 workers.” 

This week, we talk to Aaron Major, Associate Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York (SUNY), Albany, and president of the Albany chapter of United University Professions, the nation’s largest higher education union. We discuss Aaron’s path to higher ed and the academic labor movement, how COVID-19 has revealed the ways in which our higher education system is broken, and why we must reinvest higher education as a public good and raise the floor for all campus workers.

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Maximillian Alvarez is editor-in-chief at the Real News Network and host of the podcast Working People, available at InThe​se​Times​.com. He is also the author of The Work of Living: Working People Talk About Their Lives and the Year the World Broke.

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