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Higher Education at a Crossroads

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Paul R. Geisler

The central argument of this book posits that today’s American university is dysfunctional or, perhaps, «Dysacademic.» This affective disorder is traced to the increasingly corporate and performative utilities of many contemporary institutions of higher education. Today’s commodified and closed university doesn’t transform the self as it once did, when the pedagogy of Bildung emphasized the development of character and culture by teaching «the rules of thought.» Rather, the dysfunctional American university controls, constricts, and normalizes its subjects according to hyper-structured, accreditation-happy, economically driven disciplinary specialization, and a priori established standards and outcomes that work to define and transform the effective utility of higher education. After deconstructing the discourse of Dysacademia, the author outlines his vision for a third curriculum, one wrought with complexity, self-organization, and critical, open spaces.