TALK: What Are Universities For?

Chris Newfield (English, UCSB)
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 / 5:00 PM*
McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB
*Note new time.

Chris Newfield has been directly involved in current controversies about the future of universities. In this talk, he’ll first describe one of his best university experiences, which was directing study centers in France for UC’s Education Abroad Program.  His three years in Lyon, Paris, and Bordeaux gave him a new sense of the possibilities of student learning in college.  After discussing what he learned about learning, he will turn to an evaluation of two recent debates about the future of universities: the replacement of low with high tuition at public universities, and the claim that online technology can improve undergraduate teaching.  Newfield will make the case that twenty-first century student learning  requires both the subordination of educational technology to immersive face-to-face contact and the low tuition that supports egalitarian access to this immersion. Public universities, he will suggest, will thrive only if they address their society’s highest aspirations, and to do this they must give today’s college students unprecedented educational quality.

Newfield teaches American Studies in the English Department at UCSB. His books include Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980 (Duke, 2003), and Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class (Harvard, 2008), and he is the author of recent articles on solar energy policy and collaboration in nanoscience.  He blogs on higher education funding and policy at  Remaking the University (, The Huffington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, and is completing a book called Lower Education: What to Do About Our Downsized Future.

Sponsored by the IHC’s Uses of the University RFG and the IHC series The Value of Care.

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