Challenges for the University: Recovering Authentic Liberal Culture During Ascendant and Populist Neoliberalism

  • Nikhilesh Dholakia
  • A. Fuat Fırat
  • Aras Ozgun
  • Deniz Atik


This chapter reflects on the transformation of higher education institutions in the USA over the past decades in the context of the ascendance of neoliberal governance and management. It provides analytical as well as practical perspectives on how to comprehend, engage with, and ameliorate the current crisis of higher education. We first establish the social functions of higher education in modern liberal public life. We posit the ideological traits of neoliberalism as a new governance and management that bends and reshapes the higher education system. It reconfigures the curriculum, educational content, and the social/cultural life of the universities in three basic ways: from non-market to all-market forms, from exchange processes to competitive processes, and view of the market from a ‘natural’ to an ‘ideal’ (indeed, imperative and essential) form. These transformations ripple through administrative/economic dispositions that alter the work processes and work conditions at universities. These changes affect all aspects of universities: the governing bodies, the faculty or academy, students, and entities external to the university. Finally, we discuss ameliorative paths for recovering and restoring the public functions of the higher education system for social progress.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikhilesh Dholakia
    • 1
  • A. Fuat Fırat
    • 2
  • Aras Ozgun
    • 3
  • Deniz Atik
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.University of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA
  3. 3.New School for Public EngagementNew YorkUSA

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