A Dark Precursor

Provisional Thoughts on Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Politics, and Universities

Tag: Canards about the University

Canards about the University: Three Orthodoxies

Earlier today, Natalia Cecire posted a remarkable intervention into the current debates about higher education on Twitter. She wrote:

@ncecire: Three orthodoxies. 1. There is a “skills gap,” meaning young people aren’t getting enough high-level education.

@ncecire: 2. We need far more teaching than we can possibly provide, which means we need MOOCs. 3. Far too many people are getting Ph.D.s.

My first response to this was to be thrilled, and to send her the link to my first post in this series, which interrogates her number 3 above.  What I appreciated, initially, was how I felt she’d captured something fundamental about the incoherence of the current state of the conventional wisdom, and I told her as much. But the more I think about it, the more I’m tempted to reformulate these slightly, or at least to ask after the conditions under which they frame not an inconsistent, but rather a consistent way of thinking.

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Canards about the University: “There are too many PhD programs.”

Consider this the first in a series devoted to pieces of conventional wisdom which one hears repeated in discussions of higher education, which strike me as deserving of more skepticism than they usually receive.

If there’s one thing that the current state of the job market proves, it’s that there are too many PhD programs in the humanities.

I think this is wrong. Read the rest of this entry »