The Future of American Higher Education

How Today's Public Intellectuals Frame the Debate

Edited by Joseph L. DeVitis
Foreword by Richard Guarasci
January 2022
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    25th January 2022
  • ISBN 9781642673418
  • Language English
  • Pages 300 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
January 2022
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  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    24th January 2022
  • ISBN 9781642673401
  • Language English
  • Pages 300 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
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December 2021
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    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    28th December 2021
  • ISBN 9781642673425
  • Language English
  • Pages 300 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

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December 2021
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  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    28th December 2021
  • ISBN 9781642673432
  • Language English
  • Pages 300 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

"This impressive anthology presents the reader with an introduction to a gallery of public intellectuals through the critical eyes of a wide array of contributing writers from various academic fields. Both the latter and the public intellectuals themselves are responding to the state of American higher education. Importantly, most of them (there are a few public intellectuals in the book who cling closer to the status quo) do not separate colleges and universities from the political, economic, and social currents of American society. They attack the realities of growing social inequality, the intractable presence of institutional racism, and the recurrent reliance on the free market as the arbiter of value. Public intellectuals assess the impact of these social factors on the organization and practices of contemporary American higher education. They force the reader to consider serious challenges to the current arrangement of higher learning and, as such, they ask us to assess the efficacy of their respective perspectives. Do they present the reader with insight or idealism, pathways or dead ends? This compendium provides an abundance of ideas for higher education leaders, policy makers, faculty members, trustees and governmental officials as well as social theorists and graduate students interested in higher education careers."—Richard Guarasci, President Emeritus of Wagner College

Just as our society is polarized, higher education is no less divided as to its mission and purpose, whether it should be preparing students for employment or for engagement as citizens, whether it should be corporatist and profit-driven or promote intellectual curiosity and independent thinking, and whether it should pursue a neoliberal agenda or promote a liberal education. Whose scholarship, culture and epistemologies should be validated? Should it be a private or a public good? Preserve tenure or erode it? What role should colleges and universities play in addressing economic inequality and systemic racism? The answers to these questions are critical for the future of our society as our universities and colleges are the nurseries of the values and philosophies that shape it.

The chapters in this book review the contributions of seventeen public intellectuals who have been at the forefront of these issues and significantly contributed to these debates. Each describes the genesis of each scholar’s ideas and presents and critiques his or her core insights and arguments. The seventeen public intellectuals represent a spectrum of opinion, from the conservative to the progressive.

At this pivotal moment when much of higher education is in economic crisis, and public trust in it has been eroded, this book offers a robust entry point for considering the options and directions ahead for anyone in a leadership position. The book will also be valuable for higher education courses to stimulate debate about these critical issues and introduce readers to the seminal thinkers in the field.

Public Intellectuals Presented
Stanley Aronowitz
Michael Bérubé
Marc Bousquet
Patricia Hill Collins
Lori Patton Davis
William Deresiewicz
Stanley Fish
Marybeth Gasman
Henry Giroux
Sara Goldrick-Rabb
Amy Gutmann
Russell Jacoby
Randall Kennedy
David Kirp
David F. Labaree
Christopher Newfield
Michael Roth

"Joseph DeVitis’s The Future of American Higher Education: How Today’s Public Intellectuals Frame the Debate is an extensive review of the myriad crises facing American higher education through the eyes of public intellectuals who have taken on the academy and society writ large. It is a compelling compilation that inspires readers and contemporary scholars to take up their own role as public intellectuals as we work to challenge and re-envision the academy toward the ever-changing public good. An array of topics includes deliberative democracy, neoliberal higher education, affirmative action, activism, consumer demand, ethics and equity, and the role of the public intellectual in their own right. This book is ideal for any course on American higher education as it takes up important topics facing the historical present through the work of public intellectuals including university presidents and highly visible scholars within and outside of the field of higher education."

Penny A. Pasque - Professor of Educational Studies and Director of Qualitative Methods at Ohio State University

“By focusing on public intellectuals through the lenses of a rich array of scholars in their own right, Joe DeVitis captures the complexity and struggles of modern-day higher education. Are colleges and universities headed down the rabbit’s warren as they negotiate larger economic, social, and political goals and their own educational and intellectual purposes? Reasonable minds will disagree about how the academy should balance these interests. The Future of American Higher Education: How Today’s Public Intellectuals Frame the Debate is a compelling, lively, and thought-provoking read—and it could not have come at a better time in light of the many existential pressures surrounding higher education.”

Jonathan Brand - President, Cornell College

"This is a 'must read' book for anyone concerned about the state of contemporary higher education as it relates to the broader social, economic, and political realities within which it is embedded. Cutting across many of the essays are hard hitting critiques of persistent problems such as systemic racism and income inequality that are inadequately addressed by, and too often reproduced within, our colleges and universities. Collectively, the essays are engaging, thought-provoking, and worth broad attention, both inside and outside of the academy."

Dorothy Leland - Chancellor Emerita, Professor of Information and Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Merced

“I came to the United States for its 'superior' colleges and universities and have been working here for the past twenty years, witnessing and sharing the trials and tribulations they face. This book not only helps me better understand their struggles; it also sheds light on how we can unshackle them toward fuller imagination and creativity. The engaging minds of the public intellectuals so compellingly illumined by DeVitis and his collaborators present a promising road map for the renewal and transformation of the American academy.”

Tian Yu - Professor and Chair, Department of Educational Leadership, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

"At this pivotal moment when much of higher education is in economic and political crisis and public trust in it has been eroded, this book offers a robust entry point for considering the options and directions ahead for those interested in the future of American colleges and universities. The text will be valuable to graduate students and faculty and higher education leaders by stimulating debate about critical issues and introducing readers to seminal thinkers in the field."

The American Educational Studies Association

Richard Guarasci

Joseph L. DeVitis

Part One: On Liberal Education

Chapter One
      Setting the Stage: The Cultural Work of Russell Jacoby
      Joseph L. DeVitis & Gregory Seals

Chapter Two
      Amy Gutmann’s Ethics, Deliberative Democracy, and Challenges in Higher        
      Spoma Jovanovic

Chapter Three
      Michael Roth and the Liberal Arts: Transforming Society and Selves    
      Daniel P. Liston

Chapter Four
      Saving the University from Itself: Stanley Fish and the Future of the Academy
      Dan Sarofian-Butin

Chapter Five
      The Trouble with Elites: William Deresiewicz’s Critique of Neoliberal Higher
      Education in the United States
      J. Todd Ormsbee

Part Two: On Labor and Learning

Chapter Six
      Assessing the Academy: David Kirp on Higher Education
      Kevin Murray

Chapter Seven
      Michael Bérubé and the Neoliberal University: Humanities, Academic Freedom,
      and the Crises in Higher Education
      Deron Boyles

Chapter Eight
      The Wal-Martification of Higher Education: Marc Bousquet’s Critical Examination
      of Contingent Faculty and Academic Labor Practices
      Dan Bauer & Marshall Martin

Chapter Nine
      The Neoliberal Transformation of Higher Education: Stanley Aronowitz and the Rise
      of the Corporate Knowledge Factory
      John M. Elmore

Chapter Ten
      Newfield as a New Field? The Substance and Subjectivities of a Cross-Disciplinary
      Voice in the Public Domain
      Cassie L. Barnhardt
Chapter Eleven
      Consumer Demand and the Status-Seeking Society: David F. Labaree on the American
      Higher Education System
      Timothy Glander

Part Three: On Education and Social Change

Chapter Twelve
      #Real College: The Work and Activism of Sara Goldrick-Rabb
      Carrie Freie

Chapter Thirteen
      Lori Patton Davis: Mapping the Landscape of African-American Postsecondary
      Sabrina Ross

Chapter Fourteen
      Equity and Advocacy: The Scholarship of Marybeth Gasman
      Pietro A. Sasso, Adriel A. Hilton, & Cheron H. Davis

Chapter Fifteen
      Affirmative Action in Higher Education: The Perspectives of Randall Kennedy
      William L. Nuckols & Dennis E. Gregory          

Chapter Sixteen
      Patricia Hill Collins’ On Intellectual Activism: The Expansion of Our Field of
      Brooke Judie & Stephanie M. McClure
Chapter Seventeen
    The Fight for the Public: Henry Giroux, the Neoliberal Project, and the Limits of
    Critical Pedagogy
    Dana Morrison


Joseph L. DeVitis

Joseph L. DeVitis is a retired professor of educational foundations and higher education. He is a past president of the American Educational Studies Association (AESA), the Council of Learned Societies in Education, and the Society of Professors of Education. Dr. DeVitis is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Two of his books have earned Choice Awards from the American Library Association, and four others have won Critics Choice Awards from AESA as outstanding books of the year, including his most recent book, Popular Educational Classics (Peter Lang, 2016).