Higher Education and the Plague of Authoritarianism

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Higher Education and the Plague of Authoritarianism

Higher education in our politically desperate age is threatened by a legacy that it does not dare to name and that legacy with its eerie resonance with an authoritarian past asserts itself, in part, with the claim that education is failing. The Trump administration needs education to fail in a very particular way. Hostile to its role as a public good and democratic sphere, it is attempting to reshape education according to the market-driven logic of neoliberalism with its emphasis on privatization, commodification, deregulation, fear, and managerialism.

Under such circumstances, higher education is threatened for its potential role as a public sphere capable of educating students as informed, critical thinkers capable of not only holding power accountable but also fulfilling the role of critical agents... who can act against injustice and resist diverse forms of oppression. In this lecture, Professor Giroux posits that the modern loss of faith in the marriage of education and democracy needs to be reclaimed, but that will only happen if the long legacy of struggle over education is once again brought to life as part of a more comprehensive understanding as education being central to politics itself.

Dr. Henry A. Giroux holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the Department of English and Cultural Studies. His most recent books include: Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (2014); Dangerous Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2016); America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017); and The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of Authoritarianism (Routledge 2018).

The John Eleen Annual Lecture in Global Labour was hosted by the Global Labour Research Centre, York University.

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