Behind the tragedy of drastic cost-cutting measures can be glimpsed another tragedy – the replacement of the traditional role of the university as the social conscience of the nation with a much more focused role as the servant of finance and industry.
In these times of enormous transition, as we struggle with the realities of capitalism’s abject failure to achieve human and planetary wellbeing, the need for alternative modes of thinking and innovation has never been greater.
The task of universities is to foster the freedom to explore all avenues, to search for truth and possibility in the myriad of alternatives available to us, not to narrowly confine the pursuits of research to the needs of industry. Yet that is precisely the outcome of the promise to align the work of research and teaching towards economic needs combined with the determination of government to mandate teaching and research to specific programs. One of the most pernicious results will be the closing of the doors to the needs of all people, returning higher education to its early historical place as the prerogative of the elite.
Its hard to imagine a more foolish, nay foolhardy, and morally empty response to crisis.