Down the academy

I had a class there.

Over at Goodreports I’ve added a double review of a couple of books that look at some of the problems currently facing higher education: Stefan Collini’s Speaking of Universities and Robert Boyers’s The Tyranny of Virtue.

This is a subject that interests me. I’ve never been an academic but I know quite a few and when we meet up I often get an earful about what’s happening on campus. It’s not a happy story, especially when it comes to the Humanities. In my review I make the comparison to the dying congregations of mainstream Christian churches. I have friends who are ministers and I’ve always found it interesting how so many of their concerns intersect with what’s happening in higher ed.

Unfortunately, decline brings out the worst in people. Hence all of the bizarre and very nasty moral posturing that has become so prominent on campuses, and the compromises made by the old guard in order to hold on to the perks of privilege. I call this the twitch of the death nerve. Again I feel like my minister friends when they look at the more popular churches today that are filled with (and fueled by) righteousness and anger while deriding “lukewarm Christianity.” As they put it, that’s not the kind of church they used to know, just as today’s university is not the one I attended thirty years ago.

I’m sad to see what’s happening. I wish things were different. But I feel the same way about the Humanities today as I do about the CBC: a good idea that somehow lost its way, to the point where now it scarcely seems worth bothering with let alone supporting. It’s all so disappointing.

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