Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Daniel Saunders

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

James Burns

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Democracy, Universities, Higher Education, Philosophical Inquiry, Neoliberalism

Date of Defense



The infusion of market-logic has undermined American universities as democratic institutions. This issue was examined through an analysis of what role universities play in democratic governance. As a philosophical inquiry, the data were seminal texts from political science, education, and philosophy, such as those by Alexis de Tocqueville, John Dewey, and Henry Giroux. The most salient theme unveiled by this study was how central universities are to functional democracy, both as key fixtures and critics. However, universities have adopted market-logic ideologies, which inhibit universities’ abilities to function as democratic institutions. The study concludes by calling for a reinvigoration of the public, requiring universities to maintain a public nature. Such transparency lives in tension with neoliberal efforts to privatize public institutions, so universities must provide spaces for debates on that tension. In this way, universities will be able to embody the democratic dispositions necessary for supporting and defending democratic values.





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