New Divisions–Or Just Old Ones Renewed?

BY AARON BARLOW David Brooks writes in today’s The New York Times of “the fact that we’ve regressed from a sophisticated moral ethos to a primitive one.” This has always been a favorite conservative trope, that we should yearn for the beliefs and coherences of yesteryear. Yet it has no truth behind it, as any…

Taking the Fight Where It Belongs

BY AARON BARLOW It’s been a bad year. Not just for higher education. And not just at it winds down. The coming 2018 does not bode well for American colleges and universities. For one thing, the Janus case against agency fees (when unions can assess non-members for fees as a result of gains and benefits…

Barbarians and Gatekeepers

BY AARON BARLOW Fifty-plus years ago, the political right began a campaign to undermine the institutions of the American political and societal system. They were out of power and had found themselves far outside of the mainstream of both political parties; lacking responsibilities within any extant institutions, they had no commitment to those landmarks of…

Book Review: David Horowitz’s Last Gasp on Higher Ed

BY AARON BARLOW The act of teaching is political. Yet Americans like to pretend that its schools are removed from the public sphere, that they focus on knowledge and skills, nothing more. Rightwing firebrand (though his spark has dimmed against the bright flames of newer agitators like Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos) David Horowitz has…

Colleges: Illiberal Enclaves of Groupthink?

BY AARON BARLOW Hank Reichman, on this blog the other day, quoted Donald Moynihan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin: “More people now believe that students oppose free speech, based on a flawed survey and resulting headlines. No correction will fix that.” He was referring to a “survey” conducted by a Brookings Institution Senior…

Becoming Interdisciplinary

BY AARON BARLOW “’Tis but thy name that is my enemy.” That line, and Juliet’s following thoughts, come to mind each time I listen to talk of interdisciplinary courses and programs. So bound are we by names and the divisions they create that we no longer seem able to see how ridiculous and small-minded we…

“Clickbait!”

BY AARON BARLOW In early 2016, I shared on this blog a statement by a tenured professor recently fired by the University of California at Riverside. One of the comments, by a former colleague of the ex-professor, accused me of posting his statement solely as “clickbait.” I chuckled, but the accusation rankled: the Academe blog…

Fighting Outcomes

BY AARON BARLOW Underlying the mania for “assessment” and “accountability” in higher education is an elitist sensibility that, having gone unexamined for too long, has undermined real efforts at providing useful education for everyone, no matter what college or what level. Not only is it creating a two-tiered model of education, but it is changing…