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There is an alternative: Rethinking the enlightenment and education in the neoliberal university

Učník, L. and Jennings, M. (2017) There is an alternative: Rethinking the enlightenment and education in the neoliberal university. Studies of Socio-Economics and Humanities (Socioekonomické a humanitní studie), 7 (2). pp. 73-89.


Over the last 30 years, we have witnessed the impact of “neoliberalism” – a peculiar form of reason that configures all aspect of existence in economic terms – that has contributed to the redefinition of the role of university academics. Rather than being facilitators of knowledge, reflection and critical engagement with ideas, academics have instead become part of a system that has increasingly privileged economic considerations over curriculum. Academic work has been transformed into economically calculable “outputs”, which are forever changing. Academics and students are reconfigured on the model of “human capital” that they must perpetually improve in order to be ready for the next change of rules. Education becomes redefined as “training” for future economic entrepreneurs learning to pursue unattainable economic goals.

To reflect on these changes, we will also consider the Enlightenment idea of education. We conclude that the logic of neoliberal governance cannot be confronted on its own ground, since, in this model, institutions are “hollowed-out” – maintaining the shell but emptying the substantive content in order to reconfigure the whole in economic terms. We must return to the task of critically and historically assessing the logic of neoliberalism by shifting the ground of the inquiry, combined with a resistance to the neoliberal reckoning by arguing that it is not the only way to reason – there is an alternative.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Creative Media, Arts and Design
Publisher: Vysoká škola regionálního rozvoje a Bankovní institut
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