A: Gilda Haas (Urban Planning Dept. UCLA and editor of Dr. Pop) – I started this program called Community Scholars in 1991, which has since been led by others. This year and last, what I’m teaching at UCLA has had at its core the idea of sharing resources. A primary goal is to turn university resources out towards the community, by making a space for community and labor leaders, and as of lately also artists, to work with our graduate students on an applied research project for six months, and then, reciprocally, for us all to benefit from their knowledge and experience. For almost 20 years, the program has been a collaborative effort between the urban planning department and the UCLA Labor Center. It has rarely had line funding. It has succeeded thus far due to a strong commitment to the idea and a sense of accountability to a constituency. In the world of the work that I do, which is community development, popular education, and organizing for social change, there are always budget cuts. There are always anti-union efforts to defund the labor center. Our collaboration is necessary for survival, but more importantly, it is necessary for inspiration, creativity, breaking through silos, and expanding our networks.
Q&A is an irregular series on SOTA which will pose a question to a small group of faculty, staff or students from different campuses and compile their responses. If you would like to respond to the question, please do so in the comments section of this post or email email@example.com.
Q: How are you going to share resources this academic year? Does sharing resources signify a submission to the budget cuts or is it necessary restructuring? How can sharing resources model a better university based on principals of cooperation over competition?
A: Michele Rabkin (Associate Director, Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley) – The Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley has a history of collaboration. Even before the most drastic budget cuts, our funds were always smaller than our ambitions, so we sought to leverage them for greatest effect. This meant joining with others on campus to co-sponsor projects that no one department could pull off alone (frequently artists’ residencies that were interdisciplinary in scope). Now, with our programmatic funds edging perilously close to zero, sharing of resources is key to our survival. This takes two forms. In one, we seek to partner with other units on campus, such as the Townsend Center for Humanities, on projects of mutual interest. They may be able to contribute funds or other types of support (such as the Townsend Lab, a tool for online collaboration). In the other, we provide staff support to arts-related projects initiated by the Dean (such as the new Berkeley Arts Seminars for freshmen) in exchange for additional financial support. While we have to be careful to maintain a balance between the core priorities of ARC and those of our collaborators, both these kinds of partnerships are effective and we will continue to pursue them whether or not the budget situation improves.