The current situation places the wellbeing not just of individuals but societies and the world at serious risk. It is a time when the widespread rejection of expertise and embrace of misinformation has reached, if you will, pandemic levels. And yet the economic impact of the literal pandemic can make this situation all the worse, as funding for public universities and the financial situation of private universities is jeopardized, and as students who wanted to study find themselves forced to forego their plans due to the cost and their own economic circumstances. Universities have been the focal point for a very long time of both the cultivation of expertise and specialized in-depth training, and the pushing back and expansion of the boundaries of our understanding.
Hopefully one long-term impact of the pandemic, and the ability to compare how things unfolded in retrospect, will be a recognition even in the United States that, as Sheila Kennedy writes, “One of the many lessons of the current pandemic is that electing leaders who sneer at expertise and make war on science was a big mistake.” But there are lots of things that could foster a shift towards the political right instead.
I am hopeful that higher education will emerge from the current situation renewed and with innovative approaches to its role as a place of expertise with a responsibility to combat misinformation and promote not only reliable information but also information literacy if not indeed fluency.
Also related to the current climate in a variety of ways that intersect with those explored here are the following. See in particular the first link, which addresses a meme that perpetuates myths about education and the educated.
Lies Kill (in more than one way)