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美国高等教育面临危险
来源:中美创新时报网 | 2024/5/26 11:17:04 | 浏览:312 | 评论:0

美国高等教育面临危险


【中美创新时报2024 年 5 月 25 日编译讯】(记者温友平编译)2024 年 5 月 23 日,《波士顿环球报》刊登了哈佛大学前校长德鲁·吉尔平·福斯特(Drew Gilpin Faust)的观点文章,该文提出,美国高等教育面临危险,因为美国大学及其院系长期以来拥有的决定教授内容的权利尽管是如此宝贵,但是却受到了威胁。


以下文章内容是《波士顿环球报》改编自哈佛大学前校长德鲁·吉尔平·福斯特(Drew Gilpin Faust)2024年5 月 21 日在哈佛大学优等生荣誉学会(Phi Beta Kappa )颁奖典礼上的讲话。

什么是大学?我们一直认为它的存在及其本质是理所当然的,尽管几十年来对其特征和目的的攻击一直在稳步(如果是逐渐地)增加。今天困扰我们国家的种族、宗教和政治两极分化越来越集中在大学上。它们已成为这些部门以及表演它们的剧院的象征。但这不仅仅是戏剧;这不仅仅是戏剧。它对长期统治高等教育的基本假设构成了威胁。


我们应该从一开始就了解其中的利害关系。至少从 20 世纪 40 年代起,美国大学就一直处于世界领先地位。大学的研究发现对于美国的繁荣至关重要。他们的毕业生领导了我们政府、社会和文化中最重要的机构。为什么人们如此努力地诋毁和摧毁它们?

这些攻击的目的之一是破坏人们对大学价值的信念。美国人认为大学很重要的信念发生了巨大的转变。2010年代,99%的共和党人和96%的民主党人希望自己的孩子能上大学;现在,近一半的美国父母宁愿不这样做。这种情况在共和党人中占绝大多数。大学正在成为一项党派事业——对学生和国家都有巨大的潜在损害。大学毕业生一生的平均收入仍然比高中毕业生多 120 万美元。他们的健康状况更好,预期寿命更长,并且表示自己快乐的可能性高出 64%。经济学家估计,到本十年末,大学入学率下降将导致 1.2 万亿美元的经济产出损失。反对大学就是搬起石头砸自己的脚。


助长对高等教育的敌意的一个重要因素是大学费用太高。美国人目前欠下 1.7 万亿美元的大学债务。尽管我们不断援引“可及性和可负担性”的口号,但我们并没有成功地控制成本。但我们也必须认识到,价格上涨和债务增加部分是高等教育资金减少的结果,特别是在大衰退以来的几年里。公立大学已将越来越多的学费从国家转移到家庭。仅举一个例子:1960 年,密歇根大学安娜堡分校 78% 的预算来自州政府。2023 年这一数字为 13%。我们对大学的理解从公共利益转变为私人利益,这使得学生越来越依赖贷款来支付这种转变所需的学费增长。或者也许决定根本不上大学。


就私立机构而言,我们可能会将大学捐赠税视为削减高等教育资金的另一种形式。许多共和党人承认 2017 年该法案的通过具有惩罚性,这是他们表达对大学自由主义偏见的反对的一种方式。没有考虑对宗教团体、博物馆或其他非营利组织的捐赠征税,这似乎很能说明问题。围绕捐赠税的争论将许多美国最好的大学视为负面力量,对社会的消耗,而不是社会进步的强大引擎。到 2017 年,关于高等教育的党派分歧已经根深蒂固。


最近,79% 的共和党人表示,大学的一个主要问题是教授将他们的自由主义政治和社会观点带入课堂。只有 17% 的民主党人同意。有关教师政治忠诚度的统计数据表明,每一位共和党教授对应五位民主党教授。但这样的统计数据在实践中意味着什么呢?关于高等教育的日益明显的党派观点可能既是这些分歧的原因,也是其影响。我们是否认为与一个或另一个政党的联系必然意味着对所教内容的扭曲?


学士学位既没有附加 R 也没有附加 D。共和党人和民主党人的生活都因上大学而得到改善,就像我们整个社会的福祉因自由和独立大学的工作而得到改善一样。对较高教育水平可能与民主党投票相关的担忧不应成为鼓吹无知的理由。

大学必须不断加强对言论自由理想和思想开放探索的奉献,以抵制这种党派偏见。正如法官应该超越政治倾向,忠于法治一样,大学文化也要求忠于我们所谓的真理规则。大学的本质要求它超越政治纷争,坚持理性辩论和交流的价值,以此作为寻找最佳想法的途径。


这并不意味着学生和教师不能拥有自己的政治忠诚度。但这些绝不能边缘化其他观点或破坏学术自由和严谨的原则。我们的高等教育在这方面还远远不够完美。坦率的分歧和相互尊重的争论是一种理想,可惜,并不总是现实。随着我们的国家变得更加两极分化,社交媒体使任何互动都可能变成公开羞辱和取消的场合,需要更多的勇气来反对你的同龄人甚至你的教授。我知道,学生有时发现很难表达对课堂或食堂中流行观点的不同意见。近几个月来,激烈的战争引发的深刻分歧使得跨越分歧的沟通变得尤其困难。但我也知道,有那么多学生在互相倾听、寻求理解的过程中,仍然致力于理性、冷静的交流。


致力于成为优秀而真实的演讲者和慷慨的听众是至关重要的。我们的教学方式和内容至关重要。学术诚信意味着教师对其研究领域负有义务,即我所说的真理规则,该规则评估定义其学科的辩论。这些是关于知识、方法和事实的实质性问题,本质上是学术性的,而不是政治性的; 他们需要有关主题和教育目标的专业知识和判断力。这就是为什么大学及其院系长期以来拥有的决定教授内容的权利如此珍贵。


珍贵但受到威胁。

例如,印第安纳州最近通过了一项法律,要求教师教授“各种政治或意识形态框架”。这是否意味着生物学教授必须教授神创论?或者历史学家必须提供一幅我们过去的肖像,消除奴隶制等可怕的不公正现象,以描绘出对美国经历的令人难以置信的庆祝观念?或者考虑到对教学被妖魔化为批判种族理论的限制,历史学家是否会被要求呈现一部完全排除种族的无肤色的美国历史?强制推行所谓的“观点多样性”可能意味着呈现完全错误的材料。政治家比生物学家更了解生物学吗? 比历史学家更了解历史?


我一直主张大学有权通过精心制定的流程来制定课程和选择教师,并将这些决策建立在知识专长的基础上。这样的结构旨在保护大学免受政治干预,避免成为政党或议程的婢女。毫无疑问,不完美。 但这必须是我们的目标。我们不应该允许,当然也不应该庆祝州长、立法机关或国会议员设计课程或学位要求、雇用教师或自豪地声称对解雇大学校长负有责任。


大学必须努力保持独立性并远离党派纷争。大学自治的价值是大学卓越的基础;它使美国高等教育变得强大;它使美国变得强大。大学需要超越他们所处的社会进行想象——追求发现,构建一个目前尚无法想象的未来;超越甚至挑战现状;并可以自由地批评有权势的人,无论是政客还是富豪。大学必须有思考不可思议之事的自由。


美国高等教育受到威胁。我们正确地提醒大学必须恪守自己的价值观,对我所描述的真理规则负责。他们现在比以往任何时候都更需要成为最好的自己。但他们也需要保护自己免受无知、不应受或严重党派偏见的攻击,这些攻击是政治机会主义助长的,其明确目的是削弱和边缘化一系列对美国民主和福祉至关重要的制度。美国人,但世界各地的人。


我们这些受到大学培育和塑造的人必须成为高等教育承诺和宗旨的捍卫者——大学在校内外所代表的真理规则。

德鲁·吉尔平·福斯特(Drew Gilpin Faust)是哈佛大学名誉校长、阿瑟·金斯利·波特大学研究教授。

题图:2023 年 7 月 22 日,哈佛大学前校长德鲁·吉尔平·福斯特(Drew Gilpin Faust)在她位于剑桥沃兹沃斯之家的办公室外。KAYANA SZYMCZAK/NYT


附原英文报道:

US higher education is endangered

The long-held right of universities and their faculties to decide what they should teach is so precious. Precious but under threat.

By Drew Gilpin FaustUpdated May 23, 2024


The following essay is adapted from remarks that Drew Gilpin Faust, former president of Harvard University, delivered at the Phi Beta Kappa ceremony at Harvard on May 21.

What is a university? We have been taking its existence and its essence for granted, even as attacks on its character and purposes have over several decades steadily, if gradually, mounted. The polarizations of race, religion, and politics that grip our country today have focused increasingly on universities. They have become a symbol for those divisions as well as the theater in which they are being acted out. But this is not just theater; it represents a threat to the foundational assumptions that have long governed higher education.

We should from the outset understand what is at stake. American universities have since at least the 1940s been preeminent in the world. Universities’ research discoveries have been central to American prosperity; their graduates have led the most important institutions of our government, society, and culture. Why are people working so hard to denigrate and destroy them?

One prong of these attacks has been directed at undermining belief in the value of college. A dramatic shift has occurred in Americans’ faith that college matters. In the 2010s, 99 percent of Republicans and 96 percent of Democrats expected their children to go to college; now nearly half of American parents would prefer that they not. And this has occurred overwhelmingly among Republicans. College is becoming a partisan cause — with enormous potential damage both to students and the nation. College graduates still make an average of $1.2 million more than high school graduates over the course of a lifetime. They have better health and longer life expectancy and are 64 percent more likely to describe themselves as happy. Economists estimate that declining college attendance will yield $1.2 trillion lost in economic output by the end of the decade. To oppose college is to individually and collectively shoot ourselves in the foot.

An essential factor fueling hostility toward higher education is that college costs too much. Americans currently owe $1.7 trillion in college debt. For all our invocations of the mantra of “access and affordability,” we have not succeeded in reining in cost. But we must also recognize that this rise in price and rise in debt are in part the result of a defunding of higher education, especially in the years since the Great Recession. Public universities have transferred a growing percentage of tuition from the state to families. To offer just one example:In 1960, 78 percent of the budget of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor came from the state. In 2023 it was13 percent. The shift in our understanding of college from a common good to a private good has left students to rely increasingly on loans to cover the tuition increases this transformation has required. Or perhaps to decide not to attend college at all.

In the case of private institutions, we might regard the tax on university endowments as another form of defunding higher education. Its passage in 2017 was acknowledged by many Republicans to be punitive, a means of expressing their objections to what they saw as universities’ liberal bias. That no tax was considered for the endowments of religious groups, museums, or other nonprofits seems telling. The debates around the endowment tax cast many of America’s finest universities as negative forces, as drains on society, not as powerful engines of its betterment. By 2017, partisan splits in views about higher education had taken firm hold.

Recently 79 percent of Republicans said that a major problem in universities was professors bringing their liberal political and social views into the classroom. Only 17 percent of Democrats agreed. Statistics about political allegiances of faculty indicate there are five Democratic professors for every Republican. But what does such a statistic mean in practice? Increasingly partisan views about higher education are likely as much cause as effect of these divides. And do we assume that connection with one political party or another necessarily implies a distortion of what is being taught?

A B.A. has neither an R or a D attached to it. The lives of Republicans and Democrats alike are improved by college attendance, just as the well-being of our society overall is advanced by the work of free and independent universities. The fear that higher levels of education may correlate with Democratic voting should not become a reason for advocating ignorance.

Universities must resist being portrayed in this partisan light by continually strengthening their dedication to the ideals of free speech and the open exploration of ideas. Just as judges are expected to transcend political leanings in their loyalty to the rule of law, so the culture of a university requires loyalty to what we might call the rule of truth. The essence of a university requires it to stand above the political fray, to uphold the value of rational argument and exchange as the pathway to finding the best ideas.

This does not mean that students and faculty cannot have their own political loyalties. But these must not marginalize other perspectives or undermine principles of academic freedom and rigor. We in higher education have been far from perfect in this regard. Frank disagreement and respectful argument are an ideal, not, alas, always a reality. And as our nation has become more polarized, and social media has made it possible to turn any interaction into an occasion of public shaming and canceling, it takes more courage to disagree with your peers or even your professors. I know that students have sometimes found it challenging to express disagreement with what seemed to be prevailing views in classrooms or in dining halls. In recent months deeply felt divisions over a raging war have made communicating across differences especially difficult. But I also know how so many students have remained committed to rational and dispassionate exchange as they have listened to one another and reached for understanding.

Much is at stake in dedicating ourselves to being good and true speakers and generous listeners. And much is at stake in how and what we teach. Academic integrity entails the obligation that faculty have to their fields of inquiry — to what I have called a rule of truth that evaluates the debates defining their disciplines. These are substantive questions of knowledge, method, and fact that are fundamentally academic, not political in nature; they require expertise and judgment about subject matter and educational goals. That is why the long-held right of universities and their faculties to decide what they should teach is so precious.

Precious but under threat.

Indiana, for example, has recently passed a law requiring faculty to teach a “variety of political or ideological frameworks.” Does that mean a biology professor must teach creationism? Or a historian must offer a portrait of our past that erases terrible injustices like slavery in service of painting an unrelievedly celebratory notion of the American experience? Or given the strictures introduced against teaching what has been demonized as critical race theory, will a historian be required to present a color-blind American history from which race is excluded altogether? To mandate what is often hailed as “viewpoint diversity” can mean presenting material that is just plain wrong. Does a politician know more about biology than a biologist? About history than a historian?

I have been arguing for the right of universities to establish their curricula and select their faculty by means of carefully established processes grounding such decisions in intellectual expertise. Such structures are designed to shield universities from political intervention, from becoming the handmaidens of a political party or agenda. Imperfectly, no doubt. But this must be our goal. We should not be permitting, and certainly not celebrating, a governor or a legislature or a member of Congress who is designing courses or degree requirements, hiring faculty, or proudly claiming responsibility for firing university presidents.

Universities must endeavor to maintain independence and distance from the partisan scrum. The value of university autonomy has been foundational to university excellence; it has made American higher education strong; it has made America strong. Universities need to imagine beyond the societies in which they find themselves — to pursue discoveries that will build a future that the present cannot yet envision; to transcend and even challenge the status quo; and to be free to criticize the powerful, whether politicians or plutocrats. Universities must have the freedom to think the unthinkable.

American higher education is endangered. Universities have rightly been reminded of the imperative to live up to their own values, to be accountable to the rule of truth that I have described. They need now more than ever to be their best selves. But they also need to defend themselves against attacks that are uninformed, undeserved, or rankly partisan, attacks fueled by political opportunism, explicitly designed to weaken and marginalize a set of institutions that are foundational to American democracy and to the well-being not just of Americans but of people around the globe.

We who have been nurtured and shaped by universities must be champions of the promise and purposes of higher education — of the rule of truth that universities stand for both within and beyond their walls.

Drew Gilpin Faust is president emerita of Harvard University and Arthur Kingsley Porter University research professor.





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