Culture Exchanges

Cut to the Chase: My CEA Conviction

By Adam Travis Stoltenberg

The drudge of the neoliberal university may never end. We can’t really know. But I can see past this grind, and my experience at the Third International Critical Edge Alliance Conference is a big reason why.

I didn’t know what to expect. The most contact I had with the other attendees was short emails and whatsapp exchanges. I wasn’t really prepared. Ten minutes before my flight I was reading about Mumbai on WikiTravel and scribbled down the address of the university, just in case the people who had promised to pick us up weren’t there.

I couldn’t have been more surprised. In a time where resumés seem to mean more than anything, I got to get together with students from all over the world who saw, felt and acted on their ideas of justice, social impact and democracy. So many of the things that I wish for, when I think of the role of universities in society, emerged as praxis and not abstract notions.

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The Critical Edge Alliance conference was for me not so much about watching papers being presented on a big stage in front of all of us. This played a role too, no doubt. But our strength is taking these ideas and daring to put them into the world. Each person and each university has their way – and the yearly conference is a way for us to learn about this. I hope next year we will have more time for this exchange of ideas, knowledge and practice.

I wore myself out with meetings. I was extremely sick half the time. I stayed up late at night out and about. I stopped answering messages for two weeks because of you all. I’m still catching up on my job, volunteer-work and classes I skipped. And it is all worth it!

I will continue trying to make a better world. It may not succeed and there will be opposition, but the Critical Edge Alliance and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences reminded me of the reasons to and the possibility for driving social movement.

Let’s keep doing what we are doing. Not for abstract ideals, but out of love for people and for each other. You all convinced me. And I’ll see you next year in Bogotá. Until then, stay strong!

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About the Author

Adam Travis Stoltenberg

Adam is a third-year student at RUC, a hybrid Texan-Dane with a knack for getting involved in too many projects and being way too busy. Wishing for radical freedom, he nonetheless studies history and philosophy, heads a Danish music festival and lives in a commune in Roskilde.

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