In the US, the value of liberal arts is in question as neo-liberal reformers push for a more instrumentalist form of higher education. Older traditions of worker education, however, along with more recent university-based labour studies programs, offer a compelling counter-narrative concerning the social and political purpose of higher education. Taking its cue from C.W. Mills’ notion of the sociological imagination, labour studies has the potential not only to re-energize the transformational mission of popular worker education, but reclaim the idea of higher education as a public good.
Aux États-Unis, la pertinence des programmes en arts libéraux est remise en question, car les réformateurs néolibéraux préconisent une forme d’éducation supérieure plus efficace. Or, des courants plus anciens de formation des travailleurs, ainsi que des programmes universitaires en études du travail récents, proposent une alternative intéressante en ce qui a trait à la mission sociale et politique de l’éducation supérieure. Lorsqu’ils s’inspirent de la thèse de l’imagination sociologique de C.W. Mills, les programmes d’études du travail ont non seulement le potentiel de revitaliser la mission transformationnelle de la formation populaire des travailleurs, mais peuvent mettre en valeur l’idée que l’éducation supérieure puisse être bénéfique pour le public.
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RICHARD WELLS is an Assistant Professor of Labor Studies and Social Theory at The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, Empire State College, State University of New York.
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RICHARD WELLS est professeur adjoint en études du travail et théorie sociale au Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, Empire State College, State University of New York.