On Not Heeding the Warnings of Plato

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Special Section: “Views from the Ivory Tower

“Views from the Ivory Tower” is a new Open Inquiry Archive section. The following white paper is the first of what is envisioned as a series of personal essays and reflections on the state of higher education today, from the perspectives of academics themselves.  As always, we welcome and encourage thoughtful discussion and responses (as outlined here). Please contact the Editors with ideas for future installments.

Open Inquiry Archive    Vol. 2, No. 4 (2013)   ISSN 2167-8812

On Not Heeding the Warnings of Plato: Why the Internet Doesn’t Have to Mean the Death of Higher Education

by David Boffa

Abstract

This essay considers how academia at large is failing to adequately address the problems and potentials raised by the Internet. I see three main areas that deserve consideration. First, the terms of engagement have already been set by people other than academics, so at the moment our energy should not be focused on straightforward resistance. Rather, we must work within the framework that has been established, even if our ultimate goal is to fundamentally shift it. Second, despite these limitations, we can fight potential threats—including the growth of for-profit motives in education—at their own game and potentially improve outcomes for both educators and students. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Humanists and liberal arts professors have a unique opportunity to demonstrate the “critical thinking skills” that we lay claim to. By responding creatively to the changing academic and scholarly landscape we can use our actions to underscore just how relevant and needed the humanities still are.

Access full-text PDF article here. 

Text copyright © 2013 David Boffa

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