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People’s University

The last few decades have witnessed the rapid neoliberalization of public universities around the world: from market-based educational imperatives to drastic cuts to public funding for higher education to rising costs for attendance and other barriers to access. Meanwhile, the rapid decline of global labor market conditions, the 2008 financial crisis, the impending financial crisis as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and global wage stagnation, have all necessitated the need to shift public thinking about the infiltration of corporate capitalism and market logics into the delivery of public education around the world.

Our proposed project, People’s University, seeks to engage and intervene in these urgent social and political debates about the future of public education through a careful attention to our own specific location in a public university in southern California. People’s University is a collaboration of UCSD faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and community members in the greater San Diego region striving to model a decolonial space of education that is attentive to the university’s relationship to colonialism and our own unequal relationships to the university as workers and students. The group aims to read and engage with texts, including critical university studies, decolonial theory, abolitionist frameworks, models of popular education, as well as histories of labor movements both within and beyond the university and from across the globe so that we can be better informed about local struggles. The central questions this project asks are: who or what is education for? How can we reimagine the university as a space for justice and liberation? What can we learn from anticolonial and anticapitalist struggles around education from around the world?

Liaison Faculty Member

Simeon Man (History, (Liaison)


Cathy Gere (History,

Wendy Matsumura (History,

Shaista Patel (Ethnic Studies,

Megan Strom (Dimensions of Culture,

Saiba Varma (Anthropology,

Ameeth Vijay (Literature,

Graduate Students

Kevan Aguilar (History,

Bobby Edwards (History,

Delilah Hernandez (History,

Zach Hill (Literature,

Andrew Kerr (Anthropology,

Kimiko Leneave (History,

Joy Miller (History,

Vanessa Na (Education,

Jorge Ramirez (History,

Amy Wang (Education,

Rachel Yim (Global Health,