Within liberal arts there are deep divisions on issues of identity and purpose. We continue to issue degrees in academic subjects that have no correlation to employment fields. We dispute the definition of an educated person among ourselves while failing to engage in pressing public conversations about how our students will, can and should interact with a rapidly changing world. We relegate employment readiness skills to the realm of vocational education and prickle at industry partnerships for work force development as though only we are the “true” purveyors of knowledge and true knowledge has nothing to do with application or commerce. We create fractures and hierarchies between disciplines within the arts and sciences, and gulfs between faculty and administration. We continuously look outward and ascribe blame for our struggles rather than directing a reflexive gaze inward.
Tough Times in Higher Education
As an anthropologist questions about what we should be point to questions of shifting cultural identity. In the academy we ignore questions about our identity at our peril. I would like to spotlight identity questions by drawing on my own experiences as an administrator at a small private liberal arts college.