Does Higher Education Have a Future in a Time of Tyranny? Implications for Critical Pedagogy by Henry A. Giroux

How can teaching and learning, and the work we do in the classroom, help bring about social change?

Are you interested in how universities can encourage students to use their education to bring about social justice and make the world a better place? 

Come to our lecture on Monday 18 February, with Professor Henry A. Giroux, the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar of Critical Pedagogy at McMaster University in Canada, who believes universities have a crucial role in bringing about social change.  Arguing that higher education is inseparable from the broader social and political sphere, but very much underwritten by it, Professor Giroux’s lecture will ask us to reflect critically on the ways in which we can mobilise our disciplinary knowledges to create more critical pedagogical terrains for enabling students to think about and address the limits of social justice in a democratic society. 

Organised by the Brunel Academy for the Transformation of Teaching, all staff are invited to attend and hear how we can apply pedagogy to reconnect higher education with broader struggles for civic engagement and public life.  Professor William Spurlin who has organised the Academy’s 2nd Inaugural Lecture, said: Professor Giroux, whose work spans four decades, is committed to the idea of critical pedagogy as a practice of freedom that produces new discourses of critique and possibility, and that values civic responsibility over commercial interests, in an age when higher education has become increasingly constructed by market-driven rationality and instrumentalist logic at the expense of providing educators and students with the pedagogical conditions ‘to think critically about how knowledge is produced , taken up, and transformed as a force for social change and collective struggle.’


Henry A. Giroux, McMaster Univeristy, Canada

Within the last few years, the discourses of authoritarianism and the echoes of a fascist past have moved from the margins to the center of politics across the globe. Increasingly, higher education has been implicated in this process by becoming less a practice for freedom than an instrumentalised theory and practice for domination, particularly as the culture of the academy has been transformed into a corporate environment. The lecture challenges this reactionary mode of education and pedagogy, particularly in its neoliberal versions, and explores how critical pedagogy might provide the theoretical and practical grounds for rethinking the purpose of higher education and the nature of politics itself, and how these two realms are inseparable. Central to such a task is rethinking the role of educators as public intellectuals and their responsibility not only to address crucial social problems, but to interrogate critically what it might mean to produce those pedagogical practices and formative cultures that are essential to any substantive democracy. An important issue addressed in this case is that pedagogy is always a moral and political practice and points not only to a struggle over agency and power, but also presupposes discourses of critique and possibility as part of a broader democratic project deeply implicated in addressing matters of economic and social justice and the grounds upon which life is lived and experienced.

Henry A. Giroux, an acclaimed founding theorist of critical pedagogy, currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the Department of English and Cultural Studies. Professor Giroux is also the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. An author of over 60 books, he has been a leading voice on the struggle between education and public life for four decades. In 2002, he was named as one of the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern period in Fifty Modern Thinkers on Education: From Piaget to the Present as part of Routledge’s Key Guides Publication Series. In 2007, he was named by the Toronto Star as one of the “12 Canadians Changing the Way We Think.” His most recent books include:  On Critical Pedagogy (Bloomsbury 2011), Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket 2014), The Violence of Organized Forgetting (City Lights 2014), Dangerous Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2015), America’s Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press 2016), America at War with Itself (City Lights 2017), The Public in Peril (Routledge 2018), American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (City Lights 2018), and his forthcoming, The Terror of the Unforeseen (Los Angeles Review of Books, in press).  Professor Giroux is also a member of Truthout’s Board of Directors. His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.

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You may also be interested in attending Susan Searls Giroux‘s lunchtime open workshop on Wednesday 20 February. Susan will be examining Gender Quity in Higher Education. More details can be found HERE.

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