Dr. Eric Schickler is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley where he is currently working on a book about polarization in American politics. He joins host and fellow New College alum, Mike Palmer, in a discussion about what’s happening at New College, what it says about the current state of higher education and politics in America, and what we can do about it.
We begin by hearing Eric’s origin story which in many ways began with his experiences at New College. That’s where he discovered his passion for teaching and engaging with other students and faculty. This ultimately led to him earning his doctorate at Yale before landing at Berkeley where he spent the majority of his academic career. Then Eric describes how a trend towards political polarization has taken root across America using the case of New College as an example. At a time when scoring political points on the national stage is more important than defending local institutions that are good for the community, it’s difficult to find folks who will stand up to their party to defend a place like New College. This hasn’t always been the case. Eric and Mike share their recollections of their experiences at the school and counter the portrayal of it as a place where “woke” indoctrination happens. Instead, they remember it as a vibrant, diverse, and scholarly environment that has produced a wide range of professionals who have contributed to society in meaningful and various ways. It’s a critical look at how the challenges of the culture wars are pushing many colleges like New College to the brink. Don’t miss it.