Teaching in Precarity: Non-Tenure Track Faculty as Pedagogues

Solicited by the OAH Committee on Part-Time, Adjunct, and Contingent Employment (CPACE) Endorsed by the OAH Committee on Teaching

Saturday, April 2, 2022, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: General/Survey; Professional Development; Teaching and Pedagogy


This roundtable evaluates how the precarity of adjunct/contingent employment influences the teaching of history in higher education. Adjunct professors can and do excel at teaching, but they often do so with minimal institutional support, at great personal expense, and with little of the security, pay, prestige, and resources that their tenure-track counterparts enjoy. In this session, we will critically examine the gulf between adjunct professors’ employment conditions and their capacity for teaching excellence with an eye towards how colleges, universities, and history departments can be more accountable to their faculty and their students. What difference does contingency make in how faculty teach and carry out their work with students? What do contingent faculty require to excel as teachers? These questions, which sit at the intersection of labor, pedagogical, and political issues facing the discipline, are critical to an honest, just, and accountable response to the “adjunct crisis.”

Session Participants

Chair: Lance C. Thurner, Rutgers University–Newark
Lance Thurner is Adjunct Professor of history at Rutgers University, Newark and is a historian of science and medicine in Latin America and the US/Mexican borderlands.  He is committed to pushing the boundaries of the digital humanities to achieving anti-racist, feminist, and decolonial pedagogical goals.   His pedagogical projects and students’ work can be found at www.empiresprogeny.org and www.statesofbelonging.org.

Panelist: Daniel J. Broyld, Central Connecticut State University
Dann J. Broyld is an associate professor of African American History and Public History at Central Connecticut State University. He earned his PhD in nineteenth-century United States and African Diaspora history at Howard University. His work focuses on the American-Canadian borderlands and issues of Black identity, migration, and transnational relations as well as oral history, material culture, and museum-community interaction. Broyld’s most recent article is titled: “The Underground Railroad as Afrofuturism” and his book Borderland Blacks: Two Cities in the Niagara Region in the Final Decades of Slavery will be published by LSU Press (Spring 2022). 

Panelist: Kevin M. Gannon, Grand View University
Kevin Gannon is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. He writes regularly for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and is the author of Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto (WVU Press, 2020). Prior to assuming his faculty development role, Gannon was a Program Director and Department Chair. In 2016, he appeared in the Oscar-nominated documentary 13th.

Panelist: Eva Swidler, Curtis Institute of Music
Eva Swidler has been a precarious college faculty member for 17 years at a variety of institutions. She has presented papers and penned articles on the contingent faculty reality since first awakening to the corporatization of higher education as a graduate assistant. She is also been active as a union organizer, representative, and officer. She publishes as an environmental historian and political economist and has also written about alternative pedagogy. Her most recent publication is a chapter on adjunct faculty in The Routledge Handbook of the Gig Economy.