Part one of this post generated some comments from readers, including some personal correspondence from Dr. Katharine Brooks, Director of the Liberal Arts Career Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Brooks explained that she has a long track record of support for the humanities. Her own background includes an education at a liberal arts institution in Pennsylvania. Dr. Brooks pointed out that she spends a good deal of her time on the job educating employers about the benefits of a liberal arts education. In our e-mail exchange, Dr. Brooks and I discussed the commodificaiton of education. Some other readers also seemed to miss a key point of the first posting, and the fault for the misunderstanding can be placed on my shoulders. Let me try this one more time, using some of the language from my response to Dr. Brooks
My colleagues in higher education do not resist [a] corporate model of thinking, and that was part of the aim of the posting. If you and I do not resist the rhetoric of accountability — and we are in the heart of the heart of higher education –, then who will? Who will point out to the public that state allocations for higher education across the country have diminished in the past decade, and continue to decline as universities and colleges are encouraged to seek out private funding to support their activities? We spend taxpayers’ dollars on paying people to run development offices. Public money is used to scour for private monies. Since less government money is funneled to universities, we can be, following the logic (if that is the game that people want to play), less accountable.
For one of the other main points, we would need a short course in Georges Bataille and the role of uselessness (lack of utility) in market capitalism.