Universities are discussed as sites of encounter and centers of a forward-looking and often neoliberal form of subject-making. Today, “diversity”, “multi-culturalism”, and the production of “global citizens” are buzzwords central to the maintenance of institutional prestige. In practice, the institutional embrace of a veneer of progressive engagement for its students disguises or mistakes the realities of systemic racism, inequality, and marginalization. Faculty and student composition, as well as the content of syllabi, have all been the target of activists from within and without, pointing out the relatively anemic landscape of academia. We argue for attention to the ways that universities are geopolitical in nature, acting as sites that fundamentally shape young people’s orientations to an imagined global citizenship to create a specific form of cosmopolitanism that centers whiteness and makes claim to a globally-oriented generosity, an enriching diversity, and gratitude for privilege, rather than directly engaging a more justice oriented framework.

We are seeking panelists/discussion participants interested in the connections between institutional power in higher education and the production of student life and learning. Our goal is to explore the gap between critical pedagogical and analytical practice focused on the pressing social justice and equity issues of our time and an institutional framework that mobilizes productions of diversity, global citizenship and multiculturalism to avoid or gloss over the material demands those approaches require.

Please contact Mike Dimpfl directly at mike.dimpfl@duke.edu if you are interested in joining this panel discussion at the 2nd Annual Feminist Geography Conference at UNC Chapel Hill. PDeadline for submission is January 31st.