A Humanities Response to Managerialism: Diversity, Democracy, and Liberal Education in the Shade

By Stephen Rowe.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This essay traces the movement through several distinct stages of a tide of managerialism which has swept across American higher education in recent years. Managerialism, as a pervasive expression of late modernity, is understood as radically antithetical to the humanities in that it is, at root, a form of nihilism: a reduction of all values to those of interest and power, quantity and production, and the resentful insistence that everyone must adopt this view and the practices with which it is associated. In order to save the humanities from being further relegated to the sidelines of education and society, we must envision the humanities anew, in relation to the preservation and cultivation of our humanity in the environment of managerialism. The essay concludes with some suggestions as to what this envisioning might entail, and how reform might still be possible.

Keywords: Humanities, Managerialism, Nihilism

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 8, pp.95-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 523.237KB).

Stephen Rowe

Professor, Professor of Philosophy, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan, USA

In the Seventies I was involved with the founding of William James College and the alternative education movement in America. I have been working since 1972 at Grand Valley State University, a public university which is ambitiously committed to liberal education, and hence am quite familiar with the challenges and constraints to the humanities in our era. Beginning in the Nineties I have been involed with intercultural dialogue, especially in the U.S., Japan, and China. Along the way, books have included The Vision of William James (published in Japan as well as the U.S.), Rediscovering The West (published in China as well as the U.S.), and several anthologies. Currently I am working on a manuscript on reclaiming the democratic spirit under contemporary conditions.


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