July 23, 2024

The Jefferson Center: Higher education – lower expectations?

Credit: Pixabay
November 10, 2023

Sunday afternoon conversation examines academia

Is higher education in trouble? What are the functions and values of traditional higher education — colleges and universities — in an era with so many alternatives? How much should colleges cater to job requirements, the pursuit of bigger salaries, and garnering credentials? Should higher education aim to lead students toward the best in human achievement and creativity? Is it all wasted on the young, or is the cost simply too high?

That’s just a start into topics to be taken up at a conversation hosted by The Jefferson Center, an Ashland-based a Rogue Valley non-profit focused on critical thinking using secular humanist values to understand and engage with issues important to our community.

Members and guests at the free, public event will discuss these and related themes from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, in Suite 101 in the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., Ashland. Light refreshments will be served.

The discussion will be facilitated by Joseph Graf, Jefferson Center board member and former Dean of Sciences at Southern Oregon University. Serving as resources to aid discussion of will be Charles Lane and Steve Thorpe, former faculty members and administrators at a number of private and public institutions in Oregon, Texas, Hawaii and California.

Vast changes have swept through higher education in the last century. More people, through more stages of life, have enrolled than in earlier generations. But costs have risen, student debt has mushroomed, and state support has shrunk. More recently, alternatives to traditional on-campus courses and degrees have emerged.

In this facilitated discussion, participants will consider the present and possible futures for higher education. Should colleges and universities aim primarily to prepare students for immediate jobs and careers, or provide some other preparation for future life? Should institutions pursue academic excellence or serve regional economic needs?

Does new technology change the value of higher education for today’s students? Is higher education a right or a privilege, and who should pay? Is higher education too “woke” or too capitalist? Is anti-intellectualism threatening academic life? If we reject false dichotomies, where do we stand?

The event is part of the Salon Series of The Jefferson Center. See for more details on this and other events.

Source: The Jefferson Center news release. Email at

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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