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Hope and despair in the modern university

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  • Wesley Shumar, Drexel University Philadelphia, United States
  • Karla Davis, University of South Florida, United States
  • Sarah Robinson
It’s an exciting moment for universities. Never before has it been easier use and share resources, collaborate across institutions, and do research. Further, it is an entrepreneurial moment where people are poised to imagine a new university that could be truly different than what we have seen in the past where education, research and innovation benefit individuals and the larger society (Spinosa, Flores & Dreyfus 1997). At the same moment, universities are becoming dominated by regimes of accountability and audit, which are not conducive to a more expansive vision of the potential of higher education. In addition, higher education is split between two cultures, an administrative culture, and an academic culture. And while the academic culture might make a claim to a noble past, where it was the reason for the university, it is now the subordinate culture in a discursive field where administrative ideas about quality and excellence dominate (Bourdieu 1990). This paper, through ethnographic work, looks the two cultures in the modern university, and how each has the potential for a hopeful discourse about a future university. At the same time, each of these cultures are conservative cultures and the paper looks at the institutions and structures that maintain the doxa within these cultures, and the ways these discourses are an impediment to progressive change in the university. Following Harvey (2000) the paper concludes by looking for “spaces of hope” in the modern university.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventAmerican Anthropological Association - San José , California, United States
Duration: 14 Nov 201818 Nov 2018


ConferenceAmerican Anthropological Association
LocationSan José
CountryUnited States

    Research areas

  • Future University, neoliberal discourse, entrepreneurship, societal change

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