Preface. I think universities are of critical importance to the development of sane and humane society. I worked in one for 28 years and spend a good number of years in colleges and universities earning degrees so I could do the kind of work I wanted to do when I grew up (tried). During that time, I saw happen what Giroux describes to have been happening, my early years caught up in a wonderful madhouse of ideas that I was asked to think about, make sense of, apply to the world, test out as theories to determine what a proper course of action might be, as an individual and as a citizen. As I “rose up” in the college and university system, the dynamics began to change and, too, the goals, the new goals probably causing the change in what was taught, how it was taught, and how those in the institution, professors and students interacted with one another and with the institution. By the time I quit, and I did not retire, I resigned after many years of not being able to because I did not want meet the institution’s institutional demands, it was not at all a place where most people there–students, colleagues, administrators–had much desire to talk about the kinds of things that set minds on fire, confuse, tease, startle, provoke, incite because such was considered a waste of time, the goals to be achieved to be achieved by getting prescribed and proscribed work done, it having to do with getting students through their programs and oneself accepted by the institution and the professional organizations that dictated, in very strict manner, what one had to do to get papers published in their journals, publications that very few read, even academics in one’s own field.
So, I offer up this further bit fro Giroux’s Neoliberal War on Democracy: “As faculties no longer feel compelled to address important political issues and social problems, they are less inclined to communicate with a larger public, uphold public values, or engage in the type of scholarship accessible to a broader audience. Beholden to corporate interests, career building, and the insular discourses that accompany specialized scholarship, too many academics have become overly comfortable with the corporatization of the university and the new regimes of neoliberal governance. Chasing after grants, promotions, and conventional research outlets, many academics have retreated from larger public debates and refused to address urgent social problems. Assuming the role of disinterested academic or the clever faculty star on the make, endlessly chasing theory of its own sake, these so called academic entrepreneurs simply reinforce the public’s perception that they have become largely irrelevant. Incapable, if not unwilling, to defend the university as a critical site for learning how to think critically and act with civic engagement, many academics have disappeared into a disciplinary apparatus that views the university not as a place to think but as a place to prepare students to be competitive in the global marketplace.”