Free Universities

Against the Grain

As universities become increasingly infiltrated and transformed by capitalist logics, what do free universities add to the educational, social, and political landscape? Fern Thompsett, a Ph.D. student at McGill University, co-founded a free university in Australia; she’s also researched more than two dozen free university projects in North America. Thompsett describes both the free-of-charge and … Continued


Habermas and Adorno on Reason and Rationality

Against the Grain

What happens when “reason” is in decline, when the world appears to be moving in the direction of irrationality and political pathology? Martin Jay discusses how two Frankfurt School thinkers, Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas, tried to salvage a critical version of reason. Whereas Adorno looked to art and aesthetics, Habermas appealed to practices of … Continued


Mindful Pedagogy

Against the Grain

Much of middle school and high school education is mind-numbing, with students being taught to the test, based on a rigid curriculum that elevates breadth over depth and memorization over critical inquiry.  How might it be done differently?  Educator Ira Rabois spent almost three decades teaching secondary students at an alternative public school.  He discusses … Continued


Fannie Lou Hamer and Thomas Merton

Against the Grain

Fannie Lou Hamer and Thomas Merton were both, as Albert Raboteau puts it, religious radicals. Hamer became an outspoken advocate for racial and social justice; she risked her life to secure voting rights and political equality for African Americans. Thomas Merton was a Catholic contemplative who spoke out forcefully against racism, militarism, and rampant consumerism. … Continued


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