Educational philosopher Harry Brighouse to discuss higher education and social justice

Prof. Harry Brighouse of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will visit UF to give the concluding public lecture for the series “Rehumanizing the University: New Perspectives on the Liberal Arts”. He will examine the fundamental question guiding this series: How can insights from the humanities help universities to respond to current and future dilemmas? Prof. Brighouse will speak to members of the UF and Gainesville community on Thursday, November 15th, at 7:00 pm, in Ustler Hall Atrium (2nd floor). A reception will follow.

As Election Day draws near, educators, policy makers, and pundits have been circulating a dismaying variety of statistics about the economics of education. Public budget cuts are forcing universities to streamline programs and increase student costs, often with the assumption that education should operate as a for-profit business. Meanwhile, the average student debt across the nation is reaching record highs. As Florida politicians push for a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math, the humanities and social science disciplines, which study topics of culture, meaning, and value, are marginalized.

There is a growing sense that these attacks are the result of the view that universities are disconnected from the needs of the public and from the needs of students. Prof. Brighouse maintains that additional funding would improve their capacity to respond to these needs, but it will also be necessary to change instructional practices, as well as how faculty and students relate to each other. It is clearly a critical time for the reassessment of the objectives of higher education by universities themselves and the public. Drawing on his research, Prof. Brighouse will outline some institutional and individual reforms that would rehumanize the university.

Harry Brighouse is Professor of Philosophy and Affiliate Professor of Educational Policy Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests range from theoretical issues about the foundations of justice to the evaluation of policies proposed for reducing the achievement gap in K-12 education. His book about the values that should guide educational practice, On Education (2006), is widely used in teacher preparation courses. He is also the author of Justice (2004) and School Choice and Social Justice (2000) and Educational Equality (2010).

Prof. Brighouse’s lecture is the last of eighteen public talks in the “Rehumanizing the University” series, organized by the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere. All events are free and open to all and include time for questions and discussion.

For more information on the “Rehumanizing the University” series, please visit