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Higher Ed in the News

Public higher education may have entered a death spiral cautions political scientists

September 7, 2010

The American higher education ideal has crossed a threshold and is no longer viewed as a public good in the U.S., said several scholars during a panel discussion Sept. 1 at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

The mid-20th century appears to have been a golden age for higher education, said Wendy Brown, a professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley.

The danger, Brown said, is that the public will give up on the idea of educating people for democratic citizenship. Instead, all of public higher education will be essentially vocational in nature, oriented entirely around job preparation. Instead of educating whole persons, Brown warned, universities will be expected to "build human capital," a narrower and more hollow, mission.

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