Theses Doctoral

Historical Perspectives on the Crisis of the University

Schapira, Michael

The beginning of the 21th century has not been a particularly stable period for the university, at least if you trust the steady stream of books, articles, jeremiads and statements from public officials lamenting its fallen status and calling for bold reforms. Such a state of affairs has allowed critics and reformers alike to axiomatically evoke the "crisis" of the university, but this begs several questions: Are universities in a genuine state of crisis? If so, what are the root causes of this situation and what are its salient features? Are there historical antecedents that shed light on our present moment? In this dissertation I investigate the "crisis of the university" theme by revisiting two prior crises - the worldwide student movements of 1960s and the crisis of German universities in the opening decades of the 20th century. In both cases I argue that the "crisis of the university" is derivative of a broader shift in the nature of the economy and the nation-state, wherein once-popular justifications for the university are called into question, particularly when the scale and complexity of universities have rapidly increased. Returning to the present "crisis," I argue that current debates should focus on rehabilitating "public" nature of the university, which has undergone significant degradation in effects of neoliberalism on the nation-state, the "knowledge economy," and the nature of academic work itself.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Philosophy and Education
Thesis Advisors
Laverty, Megan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014