Contingent Faculty Task Force
The Contingent Faculty Task Force was constituted in the 2019 meeting of the American Studies Association National Council to address how member departments and programs within the field might better support the growing majority of contingent faculty in higher education. Formally launched in Spring 2020, the coalition of tenured and non-tenured ASA members recognized that those working in contingent positions may experience employment instability, demanding course loads, and financial inequality, while often lacking a role in governance that might mitigate these forms of harm.
The motion to create a task force was raised by the National Council in response to requests from the ASA Solidarity Fund’s inaugural grantees. Among their requests were specific changes to ASA policies, such as removing the annual meeting late registration penalty for precariously employed members. This policy change was endorsed unanimously by council vote; therefore, adjunct faculty and student rates remain discounted throughout registration for all future meetings. Other grantee requests required more deliberative action – for which it was decided that a task force would be best suited. These requests included the creation of mentorship opportunities and grant programs for contingent faculty members, as well as the development of resolutions, working papers, or program recommendations to improve conditions for adjuncts and graduate students who often work precariously as academic student employees.
Currently, the Task Force is seeking to address the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on contingent labor within American Studies and its related fields. The ASA Executive Committee and the task force have arranged for emergency grants for contingent faculty affected by this pandemic. Additionally, the task force is formulating a work plan for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year and upcoming the 2021-2022 academic year.
The task force defines “contingent faculty,” as those faculty members who support themselves through part-time or full-time employment by an institution of higher education via a contract of variable duration. Additionally, they often receive few to no other forms of remuneration or support by their department, such as conference travel, research funding, or healthcare, benefits which other kinds of precarious workers (graduate students) may receive as conditions for their study.
The Contingent Faculty Task Force is chaired by Christiana Ares-Christian (2020-2023 National Council contingent councilor), and members include Alyosha Goldstein (2017-2020 National Council), Elizabeth Freeman (2019-2022 National Council), and Laura Sachiko Fugikawa (2017- 2020 National Council). The Task Force is open for all members to join - and they invite all who are interested to contact Chair Christiana Ares-Christian.