Macquarie University’s Vice-Chancellor Steven Schwartz on the Humanities and a Meaningful Life

Steven Schwartz, the Vice-Chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, has  published a review of several books on the state of the humanities in this month’s Australian Literary Review. The books Schwartz reviews emphasize the value of the humanities in a university culture increasingly dominated by the goal of making money:

In Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money, James Engell and Anthony Dangerfield claim the traditional role of money in universities has been inverted. Universities once sought money so they could teach classes and conduct research. Today, universities teach and conduct research to make money. Instead of a means to achieve an end, making money has become an end in itself. Students and their families have followed along, inverting their values as well. They no longer shop around for the best education money can buy. Instead, they seek the education that will “buy the most money.”

Schwartz ends the piece with reviews of books like Martha Naussbaum’s Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities and Anthony Kronman’s Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given up on the Meaning of Life that emphasize the value of the humanities to democratic citizenship, and, for Kronman, to finding meaning in life. Other books reviewed include Universities in the Marketplace by former Harvard president Derek Bok; Shakespeare, Einstein and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education by David Kirp; and The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University by Ellen Schrecker. Read Schwartz’s full review here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *