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Monday, January 10, 2011

The rise of academic illiberalism

by John MacBeath Watkins

Just got in a copy of Students, Society, and Politics in Imperial Germany: The Rise of Academic Illiberalism, by Konrad H. Jarausch.  From the blurb on the back: "He (Jarausch) finds that German higher education combined scientific world leadership and competent professional training with an eroding liberal education (Bildung) to create an educated class that was tragically susceptible to the appeal of the Third Reich."

From the Crooked Timber blog:
"A group of scholars at the Freie Universit├Ąt in Berlin is distributing via E-mail and their website alarming information about downsizing of the EU research funding in the Humanities and Social Sciences."

It's happening at American universities as well.  State universities are urged to make sure they are providing  "scientific world leadership and competent professional training," but it's harder to justify liberal education, because the benefits are not financial, they are societal.  And frankly, there are a lot of lawmakers who respond badly to the words "liberal education."

Just how much history do we have to re-enact?

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