Roundtable: Labor Issues in the Academy

Organized by The Architecture Lobby

Society of Architectural Historians
71st Annual International Conference
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Friday April 20
1:15 – 2:45 p.m.
Meeting Room 12, Upper Level
Saint Paul RiverCentre

Conference Information:—saint-paul

Adjuncts. Debt. Tenure. Privatization. Every day on our campuses, these issues manifest in feelings of precarity, exploitation, and dependency that affect the wellbeing of students, teachers, and administrators alike. This panel will address how architectural historians can tackle contemporary labor issues at our universities and the instability they cause on the socioeconomic fringes of the academy. By raising self-critical awareness of our own labor practices, this discussion links the work of The Architecture Lobby—a decentralized network of chapters around the U.S. reconceiving the value of architecture—to the specific conditions of academic labor. We invite everyone to join us in talking about how architectural historians work and what work needs to be done.

Following an introduction that identifies issues of labor in the academy (such as the livelihood of adjuncts, the job market, increases in student debt, the privatization of public universities), panelists will share their own experiences as architectural historians and put forward how these problems might be solved. The audience will be encouraged to join in the conversation. At the end of the roundtable, an open invitation will be extended to form a working group to address the identified issues. Emphasis will be placed on concrete steps that we—as individuals and through scholarly organizations like SAH—can take to better the wellbeing of those on the precarious edges of the academy.


  • Sben Korsh, University of Hong Kong
  • Aaron Cayer, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  • Eric Peterson, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Manuel Shvartzberg, Columbia University, USA


  • Marianela D’Aprile, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Keefer Dunn, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA
  • Anna Goodman, Portland State University, USA
  • Marta Gutman, City University of New York, USA
  • Jonathan Massey, University of Michigan, USA
  • Mabel O. Wilson, Columbia University, USA


  • Just the FAECTs: Organizing technical work from the 1930s to now

    Just the FAECTs: Organizing technical work from the 1930s to now

    Recent labor organizing in architecture and engineering is unprecedented in recent history. Looking further back, though, we find a rich history of architects and other technical workers organizing together better working working conditions and, more than that, a better world. 

  • NYC Chapter to attend local performance: ‘GRENFELL’ at St. Ann’s Warehouse

    NYC Chapter to attend local performance: ‘GRENFELL’ at St. Ann’s Warehouse

    NYC Chapter to attend local performance: ‘GRENFELL’ at St. Ann’s Warehouse St Ann’s Warehouse, St. Ann’s Warehouse,45 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 May 11th, 2024 7:30pm-10:00pm It’s rare for topics related to the built environment to be dramatized into theatrical performances, especially ones that the Lobby is already organizing around. Let’s go see it together! […]

  • Who owns social housing?

    Who owns social housing?

    Often, we think of mass social housing as something needing large entities—government agencies, philanthropies, or unions—to take on the profit-driven real estate sector. The history of New York City’s housing activism suggests otherwise, that tenants themselves are capable of leading the struggle for affordable and livable cities.