The Subversion of Liberal Ideology: Education as Vocational Training and Indoctrination

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Sarah Ritter


Higher education in the United States has transitioned from a public good to a private investment, as rising tuition and student debt compensate for decades of reductions in state funding. While a liberal perspective holds that the pursuit of knowledge is valuable for its own sake and that an educated populace is necessary for a successful democracy, a competing and increasingly dominant ideology views education as vocational training and promotes degrees as a vehicle for financial return on investment. The shift from liberal ideology to vocational training has been accompanied a “corporatization” of public universities, as adjuncts increasingly replace tenured faculty, administrative growth outpaces enrollment increases, humanities programs are scaled back, and funding is preferentially allocated to facilities over academic quality. This presentation builds a holistic view of contemporary education by exploring its historical roots, ideological goals, subversion through the influence of private money, and contemporary trends.

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