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Unsettling the University

Confronting the Colonial Foundations of US Higher Education

Sharon Stein

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Shifts the narrative around the history of US higher education to examine its colonial past.

Over the past several decades, higher education in the United States has been shaped by marketization and privatization. Efforts to critique these developments often rely on a contrast between a bleak present and a romanticized past. In Unsettling the University, Sharon Stein offers a different entry point—one informed by decolonial theories and practices—for addressing these issues.

Stein describes the colonial violence underlying three of the most celebrated moments in US higher education history: the…

Shifts the narrative around the history of US higher education to examine its colonial past.

Over the past several decades, higher education in the United States has been shaped by marketization and privatization. Efforts to critique these developments often rely on a contrast between a bleak present and a romanticized past. In Unsettling the University, Sharon Stein offers a different entry point—one informed by decolonial theories and practices—for addressing these issues.

Stein describes the colonial violence underlying three of the most celebrated moments in US higher education history: the founding of the original colonial colleges, the creation of land-grant colleges and universities, and the post–World War II "Golden Age." Reconsidering these historical moments through a decolonial lens, Stein reveals how the central promises of higher education—the promises of continuous progress, a benevolent public good, and social mobility—are fundamentally based on racialized exploitation, expropriation, and ecological destruction.

Unsettling the University invites readers to confront universities' historical and ongoing complicity in colonial violence; to reckon with how the past has shaped contemporary challenges at institutions of higher education; and to accept responsibility for redressing harm and repairing relationships in order to reimagine a future for higher education rooted in social and ecological accountability.

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Unsettling the University

Sharon Stein

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Reviews

Reviews

Stein's Unsettling the University offers a robust decolonial framework through which to consider current issues—student debt, labor precarity, academic freedom—not only as problems of distribution or inequity but as manifestations of North American higher education's colonial foundations. This book needs to be on the required reading list of every educator and movement builder concerned about life beyond colonialist logics, the future of the university, and planetary well-being.

Sharon Stein dismantles entrenched mythologies on the origins, advancement, and promise of higher education in the United States. She wields decolonial tools for counterhistories, critiques, and disinvestments to unlearn the present and imagine possibilities for futures otherwise. A paradigm-shifting treatise, Unsettling the University compels fundamental transformation of academic institutions, relations, and praxis.

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Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
5
x
8
Pages
336
ISBN
9781421445045
Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1. A Colonial History of the Higher Education Present
Chapter 2. The Violent Origins of US Higher Education in the Colonial and Antebellum Eras
Chapter 3. Dispossession at the Roots

Introduction
Chapter 1. A Colonial History of the Higher Education Present
Chapter 2. The Violent Origins of US Higher Education in the Colonial and Antebellum Eras
Chapter 3. Dispossession at the Roots of "Democracy's Colleges": The Colonial Legacy of Land-Grant Institutions
Chapter 4. The "Golden Age" of Higher Education and the Underside of the American Dream
Chapter 5. Inclusion is Not Reparation: Reckoning with Violence or Reproducing Higher Education Exceptionalism?
Chapter 6. Imagining Higher Education Otherwise
Acknowledgements
Works Cited
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Sharon Stein

Sharon Stein (VANCOUVER, BC / MUSQUEAM TERRITORY) is an assistant professor of higher education at the University of British Columbia and a visiting professor with the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation at Nelson Mandela University. She is the founder of the Critical Internationalization Studies Network and a founding member of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures...