In many countries around the globe, institutions of higher education and individual academics are directly threatened today. To be sure, attacks on academic freedom are nothing new -- what might be new is the fact that in a supposed “age of populism,” universities are explicitly targeted as elite institutions that obstruct the implementation of a genuine popular will. In response, the temptation among some academics has been, in the apt words of Stefan Collini, to identify core values of higher education with liberal political values as such – an identification which might then in turn may reinforce accusations of “liberal bias” (both in a narrower partisan and more general philosophical sense) in the academy.
We wish to gain a larger historical perspective on this critical moment for university life. We would like to understand the different threats to free inquiry in different contexts – whether from state imperatives or market imperatives, including the rise of managerialism, for-profit-education, and consumerism in many national education systems (without suggesting an equivalence between these phenomena and the directly political threats mentioned at the beginning). We also want to ask whether attacks on universities are perhaps part of a more general revolt against the (liberal) professions (including judges and journalists), or, put differently, a set of possibly quite diverse “anti-authoritarian” movements against certain types of expertise and informed judgment – whether in the name of “ordinary people” or, for that matter, the technocratic audit and accountability regimes that have been spreading over the last quarter-century.
Reflection Pieces are available here: https://ln.sync.com/dl/c48249c50/jkqaia6a-c4dzhmc4-zs47gdvq-5x8wxt6d
Please contact Kim Girman, firstname.lastname@example.org, for access to the papers.
Universities at Risk | Provisional Schedule
Friday, April 20
9.30 am Opening Remarks by President Christopher L. Eisgruber
10.00 am The Diverse Pressures on US Universities
Chair: Melissa Lane
David Bell, Erika A. Kiss, Paul Starr
1.00 pm Universities in a Self-Described “Illiberal State”
Chair: Jan-Werner Mueller
Balázs Trencsényi, István Rév, Kim Lane Scheppele
2.30 pm From Illiberalism to Repression?
Chair: Kim Lane Scheppele
Aysen Candas, Ioannis Grigoriadis, Nikolay Koposov
4.30 pm Structural Changes and Challenges
Chair: Balázs Trencsényi
Jerry Muller, Peter Brooks, Stan Katz
Saturday, April 21
9.00 am Structural Changes and Challenges -- Continued
Chair: Erika A. Kiss
John Hall, Laurent Pech
10.15 am Comparative Pressures on Liberalism – and on the University as a Liberal Institution
Chair: Jan-Werner Mueller
Sunil Khilnani, Ulrich Baer, Tomaž Mastnak, Hugo Drochon