Alternatives to/within the neoliberal university

Organised by the Department of French & Francophone Studies in collaboration with CSPT on the afternoon before the 2024 CSPT Graduate Student Conference.

“Alternatives to/within the neoliberal university” will take place on May 9th, 2024, 3:30-5:30pm in the David Strong Building C118. Tea, coffee and biscuits to be provided.

The contemporary university is in a state of extreme transition if not outright crisis. This can be attributed to a complex set of factors. There are attacks from the right, which question the university’s legitimacy, examples of which include Jordan Peterson’s widely popular critique of the academy, bans on teaching critical race theory in several southern US states, and the verbal attacks on Ivy League university presidents in the hearing rooms of the US Congress. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Across broad swaths of the public, there is a perception that the university has become a place for “woke” indoctrination. At the same time, government policies increasingly suggest that the university’s role should primarily be to train students for the job market. Meanwhile, universities face the problem of declining enrollment. This has most affected the humanities and social sciences, which increasingly compete with applied and STEM disciplines for students. Rising tuition, inflation, and the cost-of-living crisis threaten the long-term viability of the classic liberal arts. Since the mid-1990s, when the Jean Chrétien government cut education funding by $7Bn, the state has increasingly divested from higher education. The neoliberal imperative to extend market calculations to all domains of human life, including education, demands reflection: what values does and can the university hold aside from the nakedly economic? Following Max Weber (1946 [1917]), and more recently, Wendy Brown (2023), this discussion asks whether the university can promote alternative values, and, if so, which ones should it promote?

This roundtable discussion will look at alternatives to and within the neoliberal university, which is increasingly subjected to market rationalization. Gathering speakers from a broad spectrum of research interests, it seeks to interrogate current practices and structures and to conceptualize alternatives to and within the neoliberal university. 


  • Enda Brophy, SFU School of Communication
  • Lois Harder, UVic Political Science / CSPT
  • Pierre-Luc Landry, UVic French and Francophone Studies / CSPT
  • Daromir Rudnyckyj, UVic Anthropology / CSPT
  • Mark Zion, UVic Law / Lost Causa

Chairs: Emile Fromet de Rosnay, UVic French and Francophone Studies / CSPT, Sara Ramshaw, UVic Law / Director, CSPT