Transgression is a prerogative of rank. We in the lower orders have to obey. Sometimes it just gets a little frustrating. – Confessions of a Community College DeanThis wonderful line is in response to a post from Easily Distracted on re-imagining the liberal arts curriculum (this discussion also continues on Reassigned Time as well). CCCD notes that his own community college isn't free innovate or experiment with ways to reinvent the college curriculum because of its place within the academic food chain. Instead, it is constrained to fill the requirements set by four year institutions. CCCD is exactly right: "Transgression is a prerogative of rank."
But this insight holds true not only between institutions, but also within institutions.
At my own Bizarro University, we are currently in the midst of a "reorganization" which has meant that faculty who for decades had been able to envision and implement an interdisciplinary program of study not unlike the one imagined by Easily Distracted, have instead been disbanded. The ability to transgress and innovate has been moved higher up the chain of command and is now the demesne of Provosts and Vice Chancellors. This is simply one of the most recent manifestations of the corporate university structure as it is being played out on my campus. Now, rather than curricular decisions about interdisciplinary programs being made by the faculty and implemented by the administration, the order has been reversed. The administration decides, and the faculty is supposed to implement.
The problems with this structure will no doubt plague us for many years to come. And as CCCD correctly notes: "Sometimes it just gets a little frustrating."