A new book on the impact of corporatization on Canada’s universities was launched on June 4 in Ottawa by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. In A Penny For Your Thoughts, authors Janice Newson and Claire Polster document how the transformation of postsecondary education over the last 35 years has been driven by corporatization. The clever title invokes the penny to raise some key themes, including the commodification of higher education and the privileging of money-making over a commitment to teaching and research.

At the book launch, Polster explained that the purpose of the book is not to lament or describe the current state of things. Instead, by exploring why corporatization has accelerated on university campuses, they hope to empower people to intervene effectively to shift this course. The book seeks to generate an appetite for and support broad-based coalition work to reclaim the university for public good.

Newson expressed concern that the new reality that “universities work for, with, and as businesses” is shaping students own expectations of postsecondary education. Increasingly universities are understood in narrow terms as “wealth-generators” and “career-builders,” which she fears is constraining our ability to imagine universities as spaces for free thinking and fostering democracy.

Today’s era of austerity increasingly demands that the value of education be justified and defended in economic terms. This book is timely for those interested in rebalancing the purpose of universities in these challenging times.

To get a copy of the book visit the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website.