Open Knowledge


The Mina Rees Library has coordinated and hosted the Open Knowledge Fellowship (formerly the Open Pedagogy Fellowship) since 2019. The Fellowship exists at the lively intersection of theory and praxis, aiming at the heart of fundamental questions about ideas and scholarship, in the highly commercialized realm of academic publishing.

Why do we hit a “paywall” when trying to read an online journal – and what impact does the per-article price tag have? If I publish in a journal with high subscription fees, will this limit my readership?

Open Knowledge Fellows are invited to go beyond the conversations specific to their discipline or field, often glimpsing the wider depth and complexity of the publishing landscape in the process. We address questions central to scholarly communications, authorship, and the ethical aspect of creating cost-free resources, often through “free” academic labor.

We target the high-enrollment, often introductory courses being taught by Graduate Center doctoral students across the City University of New York (CUNY)’s 25 campuses. In converting to a Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) model, the goal is to find alternative materials to teach with – that are 100% free of charge, and released with an open license.

Open Knowledge Symposia: 2019 and 2020

Keynote speakers at our 2019 and 2020 Symposia have included: Audrey Watters, journalist; Walis Johnson, artist; and Clelia O. Rodriguez, author of Decolonizing Academia: Poverty, Oppression, and Pain. Our 2020 event was shifted to an entirely virtual program due to the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, and drew international attention, with attendees from the University of Kashmir, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Victoria, and other institutions.

At the core, our programming is driven by the question – Why open? We seek to encourage a critical lens: on the incursion of educational technology; global inequities that obscure a historically localized and/or indigenous knowledge production; as well as the everyday economics of journal/database subscription fees.

Borrowing from an inquiry raised by our 2020 Keynote Speaker,  Audrey Watters, we follow these lines along the broadest scale and into the smallest iteration. Who decides what “open” looks like? When we work towards a scholarship that is openly-licensed, who is the imagined recipient of this knowledge? Open for what, and ultimately, open for whom?