by Tobias Schulze-Cleven, Rutgers University
The symposium on “Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy” probes the politics and policies of the institutional transformation that has engulfed American universities and colleges over the past few decades. More people are attending universities and colleges than ever before, fueled by both increases in the size of the population and rates of attendance. Policymakers, moreover, have strongly supported the sector’s expansion, celebrating universities as engines of innovation and promoting education as the best anti-poverty program. How can we understand the structural shifts that have accompanied the expansion of higher education? Which groups have gained, and which have lost? Why? – Bringing together new and established voices, the symposium defines what a political science of higher education could be like by elaborating the distributional conflicts behind the recasting of how higher education. The authors approach the subject from complementary theoretical perspectives with the help of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Yet they are united by a commitment to leverage comparisons across time or space for analytical traction. Together, the analyses demonstrate how central higher education has become to broader social conflicts and how promising political science research is for uncovering higher education’s shifting role in society.