Higher Education Is Drowning in BS And it’s mortally corrosive to society, by Christian Smith, professor of sociology– the University of Notre Dame.


For those of you that have focused attention spans, this article is worth your time. I find truth in many, if not most, of the authors assertions. Over the years, I have adjuncted in four universities, guest lectured at another three and have also instructed in extension courses, including an OLLI program, at still another. I’ve stood in front of undergrads, grads and life long learners in two states. I’ve instructed and guest lectured in first tier universities and have witnessed how these institutions differ in resources and approach to others that I have experienced. Mind you, my time in the classroom has been a 15 year avocation that overlapped a 40 year career in the public and private sectors. In the truest sense, I am not an academic so one could certainly question my authority to speak on the issues brought up in this essay. Regardless, whether one is a member of the academy or not, we have a problem. Academia, and ad nausium, will certainly continue to ponder what’s valid and what is not. The bigger question, does societal notions regarding the value and intent of higher education, and higher education itself, have the wherewithal to question its understandings, face its weaknesses, celebrate its strengths, and fix what needs to be fix.  I have had the pleasure to work alongside many dedicated, insightful and impressive academics.  In many instances, the ecology that surrounds them suffocates their ability to address many of the concerns addressed in this article. It certainly could be argued that individual university cultures are both a boon and a bane to the conversation.  From a broader perspective, it doesn’t help when the value of higher education is measured by the mere conveyance of vocational skill sets and the size of the endowment.  Can a complex organism composed of so many individual silos really agree on, and even address, its own short-comings?

Steve Harding


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