Blogging the Theoretical

Power and the Privitization of Higher Education

October 5, 2011 · 4 Comments


The education system we have come to know, appreciate, and strive within is changing and fast. In fact, it has already changed. We are unknowingly living in an exploitive educational environment, which is slowly draining our opportunities for creative and introspective thought. We are being primed as political and global consumers, and those who do not economically fit within this scheme of privatization are being phased out. Mohanty discusses these power dynamics and the negative change they are having on higher education, specifically how these changes are affecting women and people of color.

As the system of higher education has developed it became a space to expand ones own knowledge, to foster creativity, to ask questions, and to probe society. “It is one of the few remaining spaces in a rapidly privatized world that offers some semblance of a public arena for dialogue, engagement, and visioning of democracy and justice” (Mohanty 170).  Thus, “the academy”, as Mohanty refers, has been the leading location for feminist conversation, debate, and change. Through such outlets, leading feminist academics have developed their theories and have made a significant impact on our world and understandings. Through this system of knowledge development the University came to serve as a system of “non-repression”(174).  However, this growing concept of “globalization” and the expanding global political economy is privatizing the academy, changing its students from democratic and informed citizens to consumers in an education/profit driven matrix.

Intellect has become a primary marketable commodity. Education has begun a second revolution in which research is encouraged so that it can be translated “into intellectual property, a marketable commodity, and economic development” (173). We have begun to put a price on the intelligence of the future generations, and even more so on the fields of education that have the potential to garner a large margin of profit. Thus, we are seeing an emphasis’ on studies similar to economics, government, business etc, and “the simultaneous marginalization and cooptation of feminist, race and ethnic, and gay/lesbian/queer studies agendas in the service of the corporate academy” (174). This meaning, that in the near future we will see a decrease in the number and importance of the humanities, for their role the market will become “ornamental”. We will be phased out of sorts, our position within the academic matrix lost/stolen by this monster named privatization.

Why does this affect us, you may ask? Not only are the humanities at risk of extinction but the opportunity for all people to be educated is severely at risk of being eliminated. With this move towards marketing intellect, is the “growing link between money, the ability to consume and own goods, and the participation in public life (democratic citizenship)” (183). Mohanty argues, that this opportunity or “free-choice” for education is only available to those with economic means. Wealth determines ones ability to not only be educated but to have a say on the ebb and flow of educational change. The education system is undergoing a deliberate transformation for the sole purpose of profit making.

One shocking example of this change is the new St. Lawrence strategic action plan.  Previous to the current President, St. Lawrence strove for diversity. We aimed to rise our inclusion of minority students, and have a huge emphasis on financial aid to students who are academically strong enough for the rigor, but not able to finance their education. However, with the induction of the new president, circumstances of the university are changing. SLU is in debt, and so now things must change. In addition to the new business major, enrollment is desired to go up, international students are only accepted if they can pay full tuition, and we are now “expanding admissions reach to enhance good fit and Financial Strength”. The SLU I know and have loved for the past four years is on the brink of serious change. The powers at be are moving away from goals of diversity and towards goals of profit. The president, no longer looks to expand the intellect all those capable of SLU, but rather only to those students who have the fiscal means to pay their way through. We will lose our being; we will lose the university we are today, and who is to say that we haven’t already lost it?

Finally, I wish to move back towards Mohanty, and further discuss this change its global impact on the education of women and People of color. This change in education is pertinent to us. We are at serious risk of a loss of our education. The restructuring of higher education enables the wealthy to become wealthier, and the opportunity for education and self-development dwindles to only those who can afford it. One must look at this global economy as a white male structure of power, geared only to fiscal production. If we are not aware of these changes, and attempt to stop or delay them, then we threaten to lose ourselves. We will be giving in to these changes, and letting the powers at be to take over.



Work Cited:

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. Feminism without Borders :Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity.           Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

Categories: Group Two · Olivia

4 responses so far ↓

  •   bphess09 // Oct 8th 2011 at 11:47 am


    Wow! Killer post, you were extremely thorough and substantive. I absolutely loved how you tied in your research from the conceptual workshop in class of how this affects us a stakeholders of St. Lawrence. It was really a powerful (no pun intended) segment of your post for me. That demonstrates how Mohanty’s argument is so universal.

    Your transitions are really nice and I always like thought provoking rhetorical questions as you use them well.Also, nice stylistic touch with the 😀 face haha! I look forward to seeing your revised post.


  •   emseav09 // Oct 8th 2011 at 9:17 pm


    Really GREAT POST!

    You were great in adding in both contextual evidence from Mohanty and also adding in current events right here at SLU. I really enjoyed what you had to say about SLU and its current state and future plans for the University.

    I don’t have many critiques because your post is truly phenomenal!

    Great Job!

    – Erika

  •   kaasel09 // Oct 9th 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your take on this topic. You do a great job organizing your points and it was refreshing to read a feminist argument that was both well informed and a pleasure to read. I thought it was an excellent idea to bring up the issues facing St. Lawrence. This post does a fantastic job balance both your voice/character/and opinion, and the teachings of Mohanty. I believe this draft stands on its own but if you want to expand it, I would add more about the role university’s play in the construction and distribution of discourses.
    Well done!

  •   jmrodr09 // Oct 9th 2011 at 9:45 pm


    I love the points that you discuss within your post. The higher education system is highly important and I am glad you touched upon it. Especially since the fact that women and people of color are being suppressed by these economic systems.

    Also, good connection with SLU’s current educational change.

    Overall, this was a very good post. You could probably put more examples towards the end, where you talk about education and how there is a global impact, about the outcomes of limited or no education on women and people of color.

    -Jennifer R.

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