The Market Religion in Academia

Over the last three or four decades the growing influence of neoliberalism– in brief, the irrational worship of markets– has steadily shifted the costs of education away from the collective– in the U.S., federal or state governments– and towards students and families in the form of student loans. As that loan burden nears a trillion dollars, you’d think that we’d hear increasing calls to shift the costs of college back where it belongs, with the collective.

Despite some calls for a mass forgiveness of student debt, this hasn’t happened. Instead, the current status quo has become so naturalized that even the most “enlightened” seeming propositions are too often nothing more than repetitions of the economic orthodoxy’s insistence that “full market transparency” will make sure that the greater good is served.  That’s what seems to be happening in Jeff Selingo’s “Taking Some of the Guesswork Out of the Value-of-College Question.”

Selingo rightfully asserts that a college degree should have both a humanist or existential dimension– cultivating democratic citizenry capable of critical thinking and decision making– as well as  a vocational element. Education should be linked in some fashion to the world outside the university.  Even if we knew exactly who got jobs after graduation, and why, though , we’d still have the question of how to fund higher education; information can’t solve that problem.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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