43rd Annual ASHE Conference

Save the Dates

May 4, 2018 | Proposal Submissions Due
Nov 14 - 15, 2018 | Pre-conferences
Nov 15 - 17, 2018 | General Conference
Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel 
700 South Florida Avenue  
Tampa, Florida 33602 USA 

Conference Theme: Envisioning The “Woke” Academy™

Envisioning The “Woke” Academy™ is the theme for the 2018 ASHE Conference in Tampa, FL.  Although a fairly recent colloquialism, the term “woke” has become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter Movement and other activist efforts, as well as social media campaigns and hashtags (#staywoke; #getwoke; #bewoke).  Being “woke” is meant to encourage a heightened level of consciousness both locally and transnationally regarding societal ills and the need to unabashedly name and dismantle inequitable power structures and their disproportionately negative effects on minoritized peoples.  Being “woke” engages us in the envisioning of futures characterized by freedom and emancipatory struggle.
More than a theme, Envisioning the “Woke” Academy™ is a critique.  Colleges and universities are often touted as spaces of enlightenment.  As higher education researchers and scholars, we have access to information and the power to determine what knowledge is and which knowledges are valuable.  We oftentimes enact that power in ways that dictate who can access our institutions; promote elitism to suggest which people belong and which do not; deny particular types of scholarship from appearing in our closely guarded academic publishing spaces; and, that refuse to grapple with how our research, the types of questions we ask and the methodologies we use, make us complicit in academic sleepwalking.  As a community of scholars, we comfortably enact oppression disguised in a beautifully crafted quilt of patches we call diversity, equity, and social justice. We may sound “woke” through our rhetoric, but perhaps we are sound asleep.  We function under a false security that allows us to close our eyes to those most vulnerable and invisible in higher education and the larger transnational context.
Even beyond this critique, Envisioning The “Woke” Academy™ is a charge to all of us as higher education scholars, to get woke and stay woke.
The Woke Academy™ is critically conscious and thoughtful about the ways in which postsecondary institutions, and we as researchers in these institutions facilitate spaces that are experienced as violent and inaccessible.  Critically conscious scholars are those who envision and actively contribute to the academy as a space for immeasurable possibilities, particularly for those who have been repeatedly disenfranchised. 
The Woke Academy™ values history as a process of remembering that the societal ills we face today are the direct result of settler colonialism and its manifestation through deeply entrenched acts, laws, and policies enacted over time.  We are first called to remember that our colleges and universities are on stolen land built by stolen and exploited bodies.  The process of recognizing who we remember, what we remember and how we remember either implicates us in the creation of healing spaces that openly acknowledge past wrongs or relegates us to a continued pattern of ahistoricism and epistemological erasure of people and communities we claim to care about. 
The Woke Academy™ is purposefully intersectional and concerned with how multiple axes of power operate and shape retrenchment of opportunity for the masses while increasing these same opportunities for a select few. 
The Woke Academy™ is transdisciplinary, indicating that multiple knowledges can be intertwined to promote more diverse perspectives and ideas and that such knowledges are not only contained in postsecondary institutional spaces, but also in our surrounding and transnational communities. 
The Woke Academy™ values communities, identities, and the need for representation through a polyvocality that is accessible to a range of audiences. 
The Woke Academy™ is activist and cognizant about “doing” as knowledge-building, resource-sharing, and action-driven. Doing all this requires our attention to some fundamental questions about our work, our relationships, and our lives.
Questions that preoccupy The Woke Academy™ include:

  • How does higher education research act as a form of violence to populations that are the subjects of study, but rarely the recipients of our resources?
  • How does higher education research operate in ways that promotes imperialism, colonialism, and elitism?
  • How does higher education research promote and sustain white supremacy and hetero-cis patriarchy?
  • How often do higher education scholars engage in pseudo-intellectualism in pursuit of funding and other resources that are self-serving?
  • How does higher education research (and the research process overall) promote a disconnection between the researchers’ identities and the types of questions and methodologies they engage?
  • How are higher education researchers demonstrating a commitment to activism beyond studying it?
  • How are higher education researchers trained to maintain the status quo in the institutions and foci we study?
  • How does higher education research address society’s most vexing issues (e.g. mass incarceration, gun violence, hetero-cis-patriarchy, immigration)?
  • How do higher education scholars move beyond fear or repercussion for speaking truth to power in an era of extreme suppression?
  • How do higher education scholars generate research that traverses the boundaries of the academy and that positively influences the lives of people in their communities, locally, nationally, and globally?
  • Who gets to determine when and if one is “woke,” and what metrics are useful to ascertaining one’s wokeness?

Grappling with these types of questions and several others also allows us the space to envision The Woke Academy™.
To employ Envisioning the “Woke” Academy as a conference theme, critique, and charge, the 2018 ASHE Annual Meeting will provide opportunities for members to engage with ideas and activities that promote critical consciousness, history and memory, intersectionality, transdisciplinarity, representation, and activism.  All are invited to submit proposals that connect to these ideas and others that promote an awakening of ourselves and the academy.  

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