Academic Capitalism

‘Academic capitalism’ is defined by Slaughter & Rhoades (2004), professors of higher education at the University of Georgia and University of Arizona, as “the involvement of colleges and faculty in market-like behaviors”.

As public investment in public higher education decreases, academic researchers are called upon to generate revenue through commodifying their own research products. This certainly includes patentable discoveries, as well as online courses, research methods, and other copyrighted materials. The effects of this academic capitalism are many, including evolutions in the faculty workforce, changes in the delivery of teaching, and pricing low-income students out of much of the higher education marketplace. Faced with this state of affairs, the authors call for the “republicizing” of U.S. colleges and universities to reprioritize their democratic and educational functions, as well as the local economic roles that these institutions can play in local community development. Throughout this text, Slaughter & Rhoades ask many provocative questions. One of these core questions is whether academic research and teaching that are designed to generate profit are sufficiently able to prepare universities and their societies to deal with unexpected social, political, and environmental changes. If basic research in all its forms is eschewed in favor of catering to current educational and market-driven interests, how will universities develop and maintain the expertise to help our nations to confront unexpected situations?

Slaughter, S. & Rhoades, G. (2004). Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, State, and Higher Education. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press


Opinions expressed in these articles are those of the writers, and are not necessarily the positions of UFF-UF.