This week Steve Hayward talks with economic historian Phillip Magness, co-author (along with Jason Brennan) of a brilliant new book, Cracks in the Ivory Tower: The Moral Mess of Higher Education. This splendidly written and fast-paced book vindicates Stan Evans’s first rule of insufficient paranoia—no matter how bad you think things are, when you look closer, you find out it’s even worse than you thought.

Crack in the Ivory Tower explains how colleges and universities are guilty of the same kind of false advertising that would draw a consumer protection crackdown on any other large industry, how the humanities are continuing to grow despite declining student interest or demand, why administrative bloat is out of control, and how faculties continue to trend far to the left.

Steve also talks with Phil about “neoliberalism,” the revival of socialism, income inequality, and Nancy MacLean’s really bad book about the Nobel Prize winning economist James Buchanan, Democracy in Chains.

Transition music this week is “Good Man” by Josh Ritter—since that title fits our guest so well, and the exit music is “Sweet Oblivious Antidote” from Perpetual Groove—the title and the band name seem perfect for the impervious world of higher education.

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  1. EtCarter Member

    Recommendation appreciated 

    • #1
  2. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    All I can say is that over 70% of the faculty where I teach are adjunct.  That’s not one full time professor per 26 students.  I absolutely believe that adjuncts are a response to fluctuating enrollment, but there are plenty of books with plenty of data that show these “part timers” are not supplemental.  I would be curious to look at how he came up with his numbers.   I think this is an issue you have to look at per school tier, so it’s gonna look more severe depending on where you’re looking.  This is a supply and demand issue for sure with way too many doctoral students who are pushed through the pipeline in part to support faculties who want to teach graduate seminars.  They are also, btw, adjunct when working as TAs at Harvard.  The whole “turning universities corporate” narrative is flawed as said.  The expansion of a faculty jobs program through general requirements is interesting, though I know that adjuncts tend to teach survey courses at the low end, i.e. the comp classes and general history courses, so it’s not much of a jobs program for them.  If you get outside of the top universities, btw, you’ll see that the relentless pump of more and more kids into the system creates a LOT of need for some of those things because they don’t learn how to write at all in high schools, which is another problem.  The neoliberalism thing is so true.  I ran into this in graduate school, and I was like… wait.  What is this pile of garbage?  And I actually liked some Foucault.  I agree that college has become about credentialing, and critical theory that originated in English Departments polluted all the humanities.  But I also think that there are teachers in colleges who focus on real teaching.  I would suppose a Hayward class is pretty good, after all.

    • #2
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