The Future of the Public University

Event Date: 

Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 9:30am to 11:00am

Event Location: 

  • The Hall Center for the Humanities
  • The Commons
  • Spooner Hall
  • University of Kansas
  • Lawrence
  • Talk

Conference Title: The 2013 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes: Humanities, Publics, and the State

Talk Title: The Future of the Public University

Humanities, Publics, and the State explored the philosophical, political, and pragmatic dimensions of public humanities in the context both of current challenges to the university and emerging responses. What is the public mission of the research university? What role should the university play in the political and social transformation of the state of which it is part? What is the relationship between the university and other state humanities bodies, and how does this relationship differ internationally? What is the relationship between the humanities center and the public it serves? What are the implications of the arts and humanities having for long served in the role of sustaining national culture? How can we restore the democratic vision of the university’s service to the social and public good? How can we defend the public value of our teaching and research?

The role and value of public humanities is an especially urgent topic at this time. The threats are familiar: declining state support for public education: reductions in public and private funding sources; rising tuition costs and student debt; the growing strength of instrumental attitudes to education; the casualization of academic labor; and the broader devaluation of the arts, humanities, and social sciences. These identified problems take different forms across institutions and in diverse international situations, but the urgency of their force is a shared concern.