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E L E V E N Rethinking the Role of Public and Land Grant Universities D ESPITE A FAIRLY BUMPY ride through the twentieth century— encompassing two world wars, a global depression, a number of recessions, and the cold war—institutions of public higher education retained their largely progressive character before starting to gradually implode in the late 1960s. Starting with the emergence of the New Left, in connection with and following from the civil rights movement, the academy served as a hotbed for every sort of liberal reform and radical program. At the same time, though less visibly, universities remained intimately engaged with conservative intellectual and cold war economic and military institutions.1 In this context, the stagflation of the 1970s, the recessions of the 1980s, and the fiscal restructuring of the 1990s have generated changes in public funding of the academy, which is as much about a cultural reaction to political correctness , identity politics, and “leftist elitism” as anything else. Neoliberal economic and fiscal restructuring combined with neoconservative political and cultural reform have thus contributed to a widely perceived crisis in the mission , purpose, and programs of public universities. This crisis is seen in controversies such as UCB-N and is inextricable from the intellectual debates that dominate the culture wars and science wars (see, e.g., Gross and Levitt 1998; Latour 2002). Delanty (2001a) writes of four major changes associated with this crisis. First, the dominance of the state in knowledge production begins to be balanced (or countered) by new private and public-private research programs. Though the state remains the primary financier of technoscientific development, E L E V E N 164 changes in patent law, information technologies, global trade in commodities, and global exchanges of cultural practices expand the arenas of knowledge production and application. Second, economic profitability, political influence , and everyday activities are more and more dependent on technoscienti fic, political, economic, and cultural knowledge. As such, the role of the university has had to shift as education—often of very specialized, as opposed to liberal and generalist, kinds of knowledge—becomes of greater importance to more people globally. Third, mass education and mass movements have succeeded in altering the terrain and scope of university enrollments as lay and professional knowledge increasingly converge. Fourth, and finally, the democratization of knowledge has informed and resonated with the condition Beck (1992) first called “risk society” and later “reflexive modernization” (Beck, Giddens, and Lash 1994). Here, the combined growth in public understanding of the consequences of science and increasing numbers of science-based social, public health, and environmental crises has led to the rising contestation of knowledge and the primacy of expert-driven technoscience by a range of social movements. This has contributed to the partial delegitimation of traditional images of ivory tower academics and louder calls for academic, technological, and scientific accountability. It is in this setting that Delanty addresses what others have called entrepreneurial science, or “academic capitalism,” in the context of the “new managerialism ” (Clarke and Newman 1997; Etzkowitz 2003; Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff 1997; Slaughter and Leslie 1997). In the same context Derek Bok (2003) has written on the commercialization of higher education. What this means is that, on the one hand, there has been a series of state-level fiscal shocks to public universities, and, on the other hand, there has been a society -wide restructuring of the public’s relation to knowledge, science, and education . On another axis, while state-level support for general educational funding (teaching and administrative support) has fallen, federal support for big science has increased. Significantly, however, Delanty suggests that the current debate over the status of the university in an era of neoliberal fiscal constraints and economic and cultural globalization encompasses far more than academic capitalism and managerialism. From the perspective of Bill Readings (1996), the twentieth-century university struggled to hold together the Kantian commitment to pure science and the Humboldtian commitment to public citizenship. During the cold war, widely shared economic commitments to technical and military efficiency, alongside social commitments to liberal civic reform, reduced tensions between these two tendencies—at least within the academy. In the context of R E T H I N K I N G L A N D G R A N T U N I V E R S I T I E S 165 the serial rise of the New Left and New Right, however, these tensions have reemerged with new...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781592135356
Related ISBN
9781592135349
MARC Record
OCLC
184903524
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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