The belief higher education is about the spirit of inquiry and exploring ideas has been central to education itself for centuries. Consider where many young people first encountered great literature, thoroughgoing thinkers and spaces for political debate. Where emergent conservatism has closed off public education, universities have been one of the few places students can be involved in cultural exploration. Tragically, long-held academic traditions are withering under pressure from industry’s push into education and administrators’ quest for money.
A new book, Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex, tracks for readers a series of disturbing trends that are rendering higher education little more than a resume padder for those headed to corporate America’s cubicles.
In the book, a clutch of some of the most notorious academics, from Bill Ayers to Peter McLaren to Ward Churchill, expound on the mainstream media scandals in which they were embroiled and how little the basic idea of academic freedom meant to their (in some cases, former) employers. In other sections, Joy James, the late Howard Zinn and others delve into the mess higher education has become. It is in these dissections where Academic Repression’s editors McLaren, Steven Best and Anthony Nocella are at their most valuable as well as provocative.