The Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference will be in Chicago this year. Look for our workshop "Surviving the Adjunct" on contingent labor in media studies on Friday, March 24 at 9am.
Today, 66% of college faculty members are non-tenure track, and half of those instructors work part-time at multiple institutions to make ends meet. 66% of those adjunct faculty are currently seeking tenure-track employment, and 38% have been on the market for over five years. A 2014 report calculated the average annual teaching salary of an adjunct at $24,926.
The increasing reliance upon contingent labor in the university system has created an essential, but invisible, labor force in the academy. For those on the market, an adjunct job is often an essential step to achieving a tenure-track position. For those in adjunct positions, that step can seem precarious, fleeting, or impossible. It is essential that media studies scholars provide a forum to discuss this challenge at our largest professional conference.
Contingent faculty face unique challenges in the workforce, among them: low pay, heavy work load, instability, invisibility, lack of time to publish, lack of resources for professional development, and lack of benefits. In addition, their unstable position often makes it difficult to advocate for themselves in a professional setting. The four workshop participants have all worked as contingent faculty in excess of four years, and each offers a unique perspective on the challenges of transitioning into more stable employment.
The workshop will have a testimonial format, as each workshop member will give a short narrative of their time as contingent labor. Each will highlight the challenges of working as adjuncts and give practical advice on staying competitive on the job market and/or transitioning to full-time positions. Then panel members will lead an open discussion with attendees in the spirit of energetic optimism. The goal is three-fold: first to offer advice and support for those on the market or working as contingent faculty. Second, the open discussion will give voice to contingent faculty who rarely have an opportunity to voice their concerns in a safe environment. Finally, the workshop will help educate tenured faculty on how best to support their contingent faculty members.