The Ongoing Attack on Academic Freedom: Which Way Forward?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 6.30 PM
Light Refreshments 5:30-6
PSC-CUNY Union Hall
61 Broadway, 16th floor
(photo ID required)

Keynote speaker:

Frances Fox Piven : Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center, author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America

Additional speakers:

Anita Levy , Associate Secretary, Academic Freedom Dept., AAUP on the national context
Blanche Wiesen Cook (invited) on political implications
Clarence Taylor on the historical context
Kristofer Petersen-Overton on the vulnerability of contingent faculty
Stephen Leberstein, moderator

Refreshments at 6 PM, program at 6:30 in the union hall.

Academic Freedom & Palestine

Friday April 8th, 2011 @ 7:30 PM
The Brecht Forum
451 West Street (that’s the West Side Highway) between Bank & Bethune Streets
NYC 10014
(212) 242-4201

Join us for a conversation on the fightback against academic repression and its connection to Palestine, Islamophobia and academic freedom on US campuses. The story this past semester of Kristofer Petersen-Overton at Brooklyn College will be a focus as we connect that story to the bigger issues.

Speakers:

Kristofer Petersen-Overton is a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has a Masters of Social Science in Development Studies from Aalborg University in Denmark. He worked for five months for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza in 2007-2008 and was back in Palestine in 2009. Currently he is teaching a masters-level course in Middle East Politics at Brooklyn College.

Joel Kovel is an activist, a widely read author, and a former professor at Bard College. He was the Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senator from New York in 1998 and sought the Green Party’s nomination for U.S. President in 2000. His numerous books include The Enemy of Nature (2002; 2nd ed., 2007) and Overcoming Zionism (2007).

Ellen Schrecker is a professor of American History at Yeshiva University. She is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on McCarthyism in the academy. Professor Schrecker is the author of numerous books including No Ivory Tower (1986) and, most recently, The Lost Soul of Higher Education (2010).

More information @ brechtforum.org

Panel Discussion: Academic Freedom and the New McCarthyism

March 14, 2011 @ 6.30 PM
CUNY Graduate Center, rm 201 (basement level)
365 Fifth Avenue
B/D/F/M/N/Q/R to 34th St-Herald Square

Our university is once again under attack. Such vitriolic opponents of academic freedom as Fox News pundit Glenn Beck and NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind have recently targeted City University of New York faculty members Frances Fox Piven and Kristofer Petersen-Overton, respectively, in the worst academic witch-hunts seen in years. A defense campaign for Petersen-Overton successfully demanded that the Brooklyn College administration reinstate him after he was fired on egregious grounds, while Piven’s situation is now eliciting national concern for what these threats portend for left-wing academics at universities everywhere. Continue reading

Academic Freedom Day at Hunter College

March 2, 2011 @ 1.00 PM
FDA Lounge 8th floor, West Building
Hunter College
New York, NY

Come hear from Kristofer Petersen-Overton, Adjunct Lecturer of Political Science at Brooklyn College who was fired from his position as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College one week before his course on Middle East politics was to begin. We will also discuss the implications for Academic Freedom at Hunter.

“Academic freedom is a bedrock principle of higher education. Without the freedom to pursue lines of inquiry wherever they may lead, faculty cannot truly contribute to the vibrant exploration of ideas that makes college a place of learning.” Professor Barbara Bowen, President, PSC/CUNY Continue reading

Press Release

CUNY PROVOST INTERVENES TO CANCEL APPOINTMENT OF CONTROVERSIAL BROOKLYN COLLEGE ADJUNCT: GRAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a political science doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, has been fired from his position as an adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College one week before his course on Middle East politics was slated to begin. The case was taken up by the Brooklyn College administration after a student enrolled in his course raised concerns that Mr. Petersen-Overton’s alleged pro-Palestinian bias would prevent him from conducting a balanced seminar. The student expressed these concerns with the political science department but agreed not to pursue further action until after the course actually began. However, this student contacted state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who then characterized Mr. Petersen-Overton as “pro-suicide bomber” in a letter to the college President.

In a response sent to Hamodia newspaper on Wednesday, Mr. Petersen-Overton expressed concerns “that a state official would denounce my work so strongly without, apparently, having offered it more than a cursory reading. [Hikind’s] press release … is slander pure and simple.” Mr. Petersen-Overton emphasized that his work has little to do with suicide bombers and that Mr. Hikind deliberately twisted his conclusions to make it appear otherwise.

“I was not contacted by Brooklyn College administration at any time during their decision-making process. This politically motivated action undermines CUNY’s longstanding legacy as a stalwart defender of academic freedom,” Mr. Petersen-Overton said.

The allegations against Mr. Petersen-Overton center on time he spent in the Gaza Strip working for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and on an unpublished scholarly paper that analyzes the symbolic place of martyrdom in Palestinian nationalism. Petersen-Overton’s detractors also took issue with the fact that, according to his personal website, he still maintains “close contact” with the Palestinian activist community. Mr. Petersen-Overton’s academic work deals broadly with issues of identity formation in Israel and Palestine.

Media Contact:

Kristofer Petersen-Overton

kpetersen-overton (at) gc (dot) cuny (dot) edu

347 837 7635