Arendt Studies

Volume 1, 2017

Wade Roberts
Pages 133-150

Resisting the Neoliberalization of Higher Education
Arendt and the Subversive Potential of Thinking

In this essay, I examine both the neoliberalization of higher education, as well as a powerful alternative which is implicitly sketched out in the work of Hannah Arendt. This paper is divided into three parts. In part one, I briefly discuss important neoliberal features of contemporary American higher education, with a specific focus on the ways in which neoliberal ideology is transforming contemporary higher education along vocational and utilitarian lines. In the second part of the essay I argue that there are ways in which thinking (as Arendt describes it) is an especially powerful ideal for proponents of the liberal arts to seize upon in order to establish a contrast with the demand that we reconfigure higher education along vocational and corporatist lines in order to fulfill neoliberal imperatives. In the third and final part of the paper, I will attempt to address objections to this proposal.