Higher Education for Democracy

The Role of the University in Civil Society

By William G. Tierney

Subjects: American Culture, Education, Public Policy, Democracy, Cultural Studies, India And South Asian Studies
Paperback : 9781438484501, 310 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438484495, 310 pages, July 2021

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Table of contents


1. Globalization, Neoliberalism, and Their Discontents

2. The Democratic Imperative of Higher Education

3. Identity Matters

4. Understanding Academic Freedom and Free Speech on Campus

5. Understanding What Modern Universities Do: Goods and Services

6. Academic Competencies for the Twenty-First Century

7. Academic Responsibility: Toward a Cultural Politics of Integrity


Uses a cross-national comparison of Los Angeles, New Delhi, and Hong Kong to develop strategies universities should employ to strengthen democracy and resist fascism.


Bronze Winner, 2021 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the Education Category

Democracy and higher education are inextricably linked: universities not only have the ability to be key arbiters of how democracy is advanced, but they also need to reflect democratic values in their practices, objectives, and goals. Framed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing crisis of structural racism, Higher Education for Democracy explores academe's role in advancing democracy by using a cross-national comparison of Los Angeles, New Delhi, and Hong Kong to develop strategies that universities can employ to strengthen democracy and resist fascism. William G. Tierney argues that if academe is to be a progenitor in the advancement of democracy, then we need to consider five areas of change that have been significant across national contexts amid both globalization and neoliberalism: inequality, privatization, the public good, identity, and academic freedom. Taking a comparative approach and drawing on scholarly literature, archival research, and interviews, Higher Education for Democracy aims to understand these changes and their implications and to position higher education in defense of democracy in a globalized economy framed by fascism.

William G. Tierney is University Professor Emeritus and Founding Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. His many books include Get Real: 49 Challenges Confronting Higher Education; Relational Sociology and Research on Schools, Colleges, and Universities (coedited with Suneal Kolluri); and The Problem of College Readiness (coedited with Julia C. Duncheon), all published by SUNY Press.


"This book focuses on one of the most profound challenges facing the United States and the world: the preservation and enhancement of democracy and the role the university can and should play in accomplishing this. It offers a compelling analysis of the internal and external obstacles facing higher education in carrying out this mission and the remedies that are needed. Seamlessly integrating higher education history, philosophy, personal experience, a lifetime of higher education research, and current events in three countries, it is a virtuoso performance by a wise person who knows the field inside and out." — Arthur Levine

"A gifted writer and an extraordinary storyteller, Bill Tierney has been an important voice in the field of higher education for decades. His skillful interweaving of narratives on faculty life with critiques of change in democratic institutions makes Higher Education for Democracy a must read. Professors in all disciplines and the citizenry will find important insights to inform their teaching and engagement in the public sphere." — Edward P. St. John