Neoliberalism in Higher Education?: A Case Study of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

According to David Harvey, neoliberal ideology has emerged as the current hegemonic economic discourse. Therefore, Harvey contends that neoliberalism has permeated every aspect of society, including institutions of higher education. However, the role of neoliberal ideology is perceived as a form of common sense, and thus proponents of neoliberal policies often do not realize that the programs and policies that they are implementing are neoliberal. Furthermore, Harvey argues that another aspect of neoliberalism is its propensity to exclude or ignore society. This thesis explores the relationship between neoliberal ideology and higher education, as well as the tendency of neoliberalism to depict universities and other forms of higher education as catalysts for economic development. In order to examine this relationship, this thesis examines an institution of higher education located in Southside Virginia, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). More specifically, this thesis takes an in depth look of the academic, research, and outreach/community programs offered by IALR. Moreover, this thesis explains how some of IALR's programs fit within a neoliberal framework and others do not, and how these programs are characterized as mechanisms of economic revitalization in Southside Virginia. Finally, this thesis demonstrates the ways in which IALR has embraced aspects of neoliberal ideology while resisting neoliberalism's tendencies to exclude the community from decision-making processes, yet also inculcate neoliberal ideology into the community's perceptions of economic development and higher education.

Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, neoliberalism, IALR, Education, Higher, Southside Virginia, applied research, innovation economy, outreach, economic development