The Conflict of the Faculties: Scarcity and Competition in Higher Education
Liberal arts programs today are often underfunded and underenrolled, while professional programs may command the greatest share of the university’s resources and, increasingly, attract the greatest number of students. Traditionally, the liberal arts have been a part of every university education, but funding shortfalls and a shift in educational priorities have redefined the liberal arts as a mere embellishment of the more practical knowledge taught in professional programs. This has led to what seems like intractable conflicts between the aims of a traditional liberal arts education (sparking intellectual curiosity, cultivating the love of learning, and fostering intellectual capacities that are critical for citizenship) and the more limited economic aims of training and credentialing students for the work force. Is there a way to minimize or avoid this conflict? Can the diverse faculties of the contemporary university rediscover common ground? At the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Values in Higher Education, we are seeking to move beyond the standard and sometimes stale arguments to transform the familiar conflict of the faculties into a productive debate.
We invite papers and panel presentations on questions such as:
- What are some good resources for re-framing the conflict in higher education? How can they be used effectively?
- What innovative pedagogical practices work through this conflict?
- How can competition be turned into cooperation in order to maximize the limited resources available in higher education?
- Which of the stakeholders are defining the success of the students? Who ought to be defining student success? What role do assessment instruments and processes play? What constructive role could they play?
- How might institutions of higher education be better organized in order to alleviate this conflict? And where is the power and motivation to do something like that? How can various incentive structures be altered to overcome this conflict?
- What does this conflict mean in terms of the disciplines and/or the way in which we conceptualize knowledge?
- What role does general education curriculum play in exacerbating or alleviating this conflict?
- Do public perceptions of higher education (e.g., public views of speech codes, identity politics on campus, etc.) negatively impact the conflict and competition? If so, what can be done to address those perceptions?