The Role of the Public Intellectual in a Time of Crisis

Aaron Barlow on public intellectuals’ views on and recommendations for higher education from Henry Giroux, Michael Berube, and, ultimately, getting back to John Dewey through them


In his new book, Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education, Henry Giroux writes that, “as public intellectuals, academics can do more.” We know that, of course, but it never hurts to hear it again, especially as the crisis in American education–and, following necessarily, in American society–grows. But what does it mean to be a public intellectual? What, in other words, does one do?

Giroux suggests that our actions, in dealing directly with education, break into four areas. First, of course, we can stop writing just to each other. Second, we have to recognize that what is happening to our profession is exactly what is happening elsewhere in society. Third, we should be advocates for our students, both in cost and quality of the education they receive. And, fourth, we need to resist the growth in power of the “managerial class” now dominating higher-education administration. These are not difficult tasks in the…

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About @NatM4Equity

The National Mobilization for Equity is a coalition of organizations committed to alleviating the present staffing crisis in higher education: three-quarters of the teaching jobs in American colleges are held by underpaid, precarious and poorly-supported contingent faculty. Our long-term goal is to end contingency as the norm. The current untenable situation not only adversely affects all faculty members, both contingent and tenure-track, it also negatively impacts our profession, our students and the quality of their education.

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