Andrew Ross: Says professors should move beyond criticism of the "corporate university"

Historians in the News

When Andrew Ross was doing research for his latest book, Fast Boat to China: Corporate Flight and the Consequences of Free Trade; Lessons from Shanghai, he found himself spending a lot of time at the American Chamber of Commerce in China. The people he met there, he said Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association, generally assumed that he was some kind of investor, looking for a good move for his money.

That Ross — a New York University professor and leader in American studies — was doing research in China really wasn’t a surprise at the meeting, in Philadelphia. American studies is about as expansive as American foreign policy these days, and sessions at the meeting cover everything from the role of American Indians in the European imagination to the role of American studies in Vietnam. More surprising may have been the amount of time Ross — a frequent and continuing critic of the treatment of low-wage workers in higher education and elsewhere in American society — has been spending with business leaders of late. Not only can he pass for one (at least in Shanghai), but he’s thinking differently about how academics in American studies critique higher education.

All of the talk about the “corporate university,” he said, has led to a “siege mentality” that professors should move beyond. The phrase “corporate university,” much bandied about in criticisms of academe, is “a lazy term,” he said. Ross hasn’t gone all corporate and moved to the business school. He’s still quite critical of business values and their impact. But he said that a more nuanced analysis is needed, one that sees that the idea of the “corporate university” is actually part of “a two-way street” in which academic values — and specifically the values of interdisciplinary humanities departments — are shaping a new corporate culture....
Read entire article at Inside Higher Ed

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