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Values in Conflict

Values in Conflict: The University, the Marketplace, and the Trials of Liberal Education

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Values in Conflict
    Book Description:

    Values in Conflict is a clarion call to policy-makers, business leaders, and the public at large to rethink the current direction of the contemporary university. Paul Axelrod demonstrates that liberal education, the core of higher learning, is threatened by the constricting pressures of the marketplace and shows how political and economic pressures are redefining higher learning. Axelrod demonstrates how, in the race for riches - symbolized by endless rhetoric about the need for Canada to become globally competitive, technologically advanced, and proficient at churning out "knowledge workers" - our schools and universities are being forced by government policy to narrow their educational vistas. The decision-making autonomy that universities must have to provide cultural, intellectual, community-service, and training functions is being eroded. Values in Conflict explains why this is happening - and why it matters.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7042-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    The ground is shifting beneath the contemporary university, and it is time to take stock of its precarious situation. The cultivation of intellect, long a central objective of university life, is threatened by political and economic pressures that are redefining and reshaping the functions of higher learning. In my view, politicians, business leaders, academics, aspiring students, their parents, and the general public need to think critically about these educational directions, and this book, I hope, will contribute to such a discussion.

    Universities have a variety of roles, but their most crucial is the nourishing of intellectual life. Once accessible almost...

  6. 1 Roots and Branches of Liberal Education
    (pp. 8-33)

    The concept of liberal education is filled with paradox. It is at once the most enduring and changeable of academic traditions. Its roots are in the intellectual culture of Ancient Greece and Rome, and it continues, at least ideally, to embrace some core ideals from that period. At the same time, it has been frequently reinvented over the past two millennia. This chapter surveys the history of various approaches to liberal education, situating the discussion within the context of a broad historical account of higher education itself. This lays the basis for the subsequent discussion of the continuing value of...

  7. 2 Intellect, Culture, and Community
    (pp. 34-63)

    Historically, liberal education has been the foundation of academic life, yet it defies easy categorization and definition. In the face of such conceptual uncertainty in an era of volatile change, is an unambiguous, intellectually sound meaning of liberal education possible and defensible? I believe it is, and this chapter endeavours to provide it. The proposed definition attempts to reflect the traditions and dynamism of liberal education and to indicate its continuing academic and social value. It seeks to avoid intellectual nostalgia and is informed by current academic and cultural realities. I hope to demonstrate that the continual devaluing of liberal...

  8. 3 Occupations, Incomes, and the Economy
    (pp. 64-85)

    This book argues that liberal education is its own justification. Immersing oneself in the world of ideas and navigating through countervailing intellectual currents is challenging and intrinsically rewarding. The discoveries one makes on such a voyage are often as stirring and stimulating as the ultimate destination itself.

    Yet for a variety of reasons, in the world of education, the ends often trump the means. Consumed by the values of the marketplace, governments, employers, the media, parents, and students habitually assess schooling not for what it is but what for what it can purchase. The politician who speaks of society’s educational...

  9. 4 Ideology and Policy
    (pp. 86-118)

    Is liberal education in crisis? Not necessarily, atleast not yet. Students continue to enrol annually by the thousand in the social sciences and humanities. Scholarly research and publication carry on, possibly at unprecedented rates. New academic initiatives in the arts are not unknown. My argument in this book is not that the liberal arts have disappeared but that they are at risk and that if current policy trends continue in Canada, their future will indeed be in question.

    This chapter identifies the source of the most serious threat to liberal education: recent government policies that privilege certain academic endeavours over...

  10. 5 Teaching and Learning
    (pp. 119-142)

    The health of liberal education depends not only on the enlightenment or folly of government policies but also on academics themselves. It is not sufficient for me and my colleagues to bemoan the actions of external authorities who seek to shape and redirect the university in the constricting ways described in the last chapter. We must also take responsibility for what goes on inside our own classrooms. This does not mean merely denouncing students for being uninterested in the stimulating intellectual content we provide for them. In fact, we are not consistently interesting, and students may have good pedagogical reasons...

  11. Conclusion: Educational Futures
    (pp. 143-150)

    whither the contemporary university? Consider this scenario for the year 2015. Dependent for some 90 per cent of their income on a combination of private funding and tuition fees (now approaching $20,000 for a BA in Canada), higher educational institutions (including colleges and universities) are explicitly mandated to meet prescribed functions. These include providing targeted numbers of graduates for particular employment sectors, which are determined at regular intervals by oversight committees consisting of industry, government, and university officials. Public funding is entirely contingent on performance indicators, such as the employment success rate of academic programs and employer and student satisfaction....

  12. Notes
    (pp. 151-168)
  13. Further Reading on Liberal Education and the University
    (pp. 169-170)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 171-192)
  15. Index
    (pp. 193-203)