Leveraging the Academy: Suggestions for Radical Grad Students and Radicals Considering Grad School
Romanticized, demonized, celebrated, denounced — among activists in the United States and Canada, academia is all of these things. It is a gate-keeping institution that shapes and is shaped by relations of power and privilege. It is a site of intense struggle: those who are structurally excluded battle for access, while those who study there fight for affordable and relevant education, and those who work there demand dignity, respect, and living wages. It is a place both where people develop radical politics and transformative visions and where people seclude themselves in insular, disconnected ivory towers. These contradictions are stark. Yet radicals have tried to make use of the academy. Since the 1960s, in particular, graduate school has become an attractive pathway for many activists, but also often an isolating and depoliticizing one. This is still true today, as radicals active in a variety of movements are choosing to go to grad school.