Author: Elliot Berkman

The Self-Defeat of Academia

These last few years have been tough for higher education. Enrollment is down year after year, state funding increases have stalled even as costs skyrocket, and most people don’t have much confidence overall in American colleges and universities. The standard explanation within academia for these trends is that the relentless drumbeat of criticism of universities from right-wing media have combined with increasing anti-intellectualism in the US to erode public perceptions of the value of higher education. Attacks from conservative media have increased, focused in particular on the well-established liberal bias in higher ed, so the partisan divide in perceptions of universities is not surprising. But right-wing attacks on the academy and its denizens are only part of the story. A closer look at the data shows that a sizeable number of liberals are dissatisfied with higher education. Besides, focusing only on partisan media places the responsibility for recent downward trends in enrolment, funding, and public opinion outside of academia. We – professors and administrators in higher education – need to accept our role in these trends. Only by …