"Universities at Risk: Historical, Comparative, and Normative Perspectives"

Apr 20, 2018Apr 21, 2018
301 Marx Hall


Event Description

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, [email protected]edu, 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