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Today we look inside an example of destabilizing knowledge hierarchies inside an American university. With me is Patricia Parker. Patricia helped set up the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The graduate certificate reveals the paradoxes of challenging dominant forms of knowledge inside one of the very sites, the university, responsible for reproducing colonial knowledge structures.

Patrcia Parker is chair of the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina where she is also an associate professor of critical organizational communication studies and director of the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research. She is currently finishing a book entitled, Living Ella Baker’s Legacy, which documents a multiyear participatory research study with African American girls in under-resourced communities leading social justice activist campaigns.

She will speak at the CIES Symposium later this month.

Citation: Parker, Patricia, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 90, podcast audio, October 9, 2017. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/parker/

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How did American universities end up being seen as the best in the world?

My guest today, David Labaree, argues it was the very decentralized and autonomous structure of the higher education system that allowed universities to develop an entrepreneurial ethos that drove American higher education to become the best. Today, America’s universities and colleges produce the most scholarship, earn the most Nobel prizes, hold the largest endowments, and attract the most esteemed students and scholars from around the world

The messy structure of American higher education was not planned, however. There was no strong state or strong church directing the system from above. Rather higher education developed in a free market where survival was never guaranteed. Such a system produced unintended consequences that would make American higher education the envy of the world.

David Labaree is a professor of Education at Stanford University. His new book is A Perfect Mess: The unlikely ascendancy of American Higher Education, which was published by the University of Chicago Press earlier this year.

Citation: Labaree, David, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 77, podcast audio, June 12, 2017. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/davidlabaree/

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Competition within and across universities is so common that it may not seem like a big deal. Professors compete for tenure. Students compete to get into a best universities. And universities compete for rankings.

But where does this competition come from and what effects is it having on higher education systems?

My guest today is Prof. Rajani Naidoo, professor in higher education management at the University of Bath. She recently edited a special issue of the British Journal of the Sociology of Education looking at what she calls the “competition fetish” in higher education. The special issue, which comes out later this year, brings together articles that show the varieties of competition and the various ways actors channel, reproduce, internalize and secure competition logics. Some of the articles address the consequences of competition.

Prof. Naidoo presented some of the ideas discussed here in her Worldviews lecture. 

Citation: Naidoo, Rajani, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 20, podcast audio, July 21, 2016. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/rajaninaidoo/

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