Higher Education and Everyday Life

  • Stanley Aronowitz


The twentieth century history of American higher education was periodically punctuated by allegations that its institutions had been seriously compromised by corporate and state influence in the conduct of academic inquiry, and by administrative infractions against the traditional aspiration of shared governance. Thorstein Veblen’s Higher Learning in America (1918) and Robert Lynd’s Knowledge for What? (1939) were prescient indictments of a not yet mature corporate university. Asking whether higher learning should serve the public good or private gain, Veblen’s and Lynd’s rants were regarded with considerable skepticism even as the authors were accorded the status of respected cranks. At the moment of their interventions mainstream America was preoccupied with each of the two world wars and was seriously considering mobilizing its intellectual resources, including the universities. Under these circumstances appeals to academic freedom and autonomy tended to fall on deaf ears. Indeed in contrast to some European countries where scientific and technological research was conducted by independent institutes rather than universities, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s science advisors recommended that a handful of elite public and private schools such as Berkeley and Princeton be charged with the responsibilities associated with the scientific and technological aspects of the war effort.


Academic Freedom American High Education Shared Governance Defense Contract Corporate Partner 
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© Peter Pericles Trifonas and Michael A. Peters 2005

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  • Stanley Aronowitz

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