Colleges Are Failing in Their Fundamental Mission, but There’s Still Hope


(Note: What all too often passes these days for “higher education” is, sadly, neither higher nor education. In the social sciences especially, it’s frequently little more than indoctrination. “To send your child to college,” writes commentator Dennis Prager, “is to play Russian roulette with their values. There is a good chance your child will return from college alienated from you, from America, and from Western civilization.” No one has a moral obligation to subsidize by their taxes, tuition, or contributions the destruction of their free society. So it’s exciting when a new university is formed to offer parents and students an alternative to widespread academic rot. When I learned of Ralston College, I eagerly asked my friend and its founding president, Stephen Blackwood, to share the good news here.

Lawrence W. Reed, president emeritus, Foundation for Economic Education.)

We hear a lot about problems in higher education. From unsustainable cost to the student loan crisis to activist ideology and cancel culture, the problems are serious, widespread, and widely acknowledged.

One can describe and analyze those problems in various ways, but there’s no getting around the fact, exceptions here and there, that our institutions of higher education are failing their fundamental purpose—to enable young people to live meaningful and substantial lives.

Nor is this an accident. The neo-Marxist worldview that has overtaken our institutions of higher education—according to which there is no truth but only power—leads inevitably to alienation and despair. Our colleges and universities are the disseminators of this cynical, horizon-darkening worldview, which through their unparalleled influence has spread through every institution and every aspect of our culture.

The unsavory radicals who burn cities and storm the Capitol are reading from the same playbook as our ruling class: our tech oligarchs, media, academics, and political elites.

Nor is this an accident. The "long march" through the institutions was a neo-Marxist strategic plan. The amazing thing is how completely they pulled it off.

There is no remedy to this crisis but to offer the young another way—to instill in them a love of truth and freedom, of justice and beauty.

The result of this long march is the civilizational crisis we now face, with the very fundamentals of Western culture—freedom of speech and thought, freedom of association and religion, freedom of exchange, the inalienable dignity and freedom of the individual—under open attack.

There is no remedy to this crisis but to offer the young another way—to instill in them a love of truth and freedom, of justice and beauty, and the courage to defend the forms of life and culture on which human life, lived to the fullest, depends.

And yet, our universities and colleges have proven utterly immune to reform from within. We have tried—with institutes, campus groups, professorships, lectures, and the like—and while some good work has been done, our colleges and universities have continued to get worse, not better, despite these efforts.

The simple truth is that you could have a billion dollars—heck, ten billion—and not be able to bring about a single fundamental change to the governance, curriculum, or campus life of any major college or university.

But why do we need to?

When Elon Musk started Tesla, did he ask permission from Ford or Toyota—to see if he could tinker at the edges of one of their factories? Did Steve Jobs ask permission from IBM or Microsoft? Did Bernie Marcus ask the local hardware store if he could sell a few hammers, pretty please, on aisle five of the local hardware store? No, he started the Home Depot.

To ask permission is already a concession to the status quo.

Innovation is the best remedy to any stagnant industry—just as freedom of speech and thought are the antidote to corruption and coercion. Higher education is no exception.

That is the insight that led my colleagues and me to take a more positive approach—to build a new university—Ralston College—a place to foster free minds and meaningful lives. A place devoted to freedom of thought, to encountering great works of art and intellect, and to fellowship built around those things: to courageously seeking the truth, wherever it leads.

Innovation is the best remedy to any stagnant industry—just as freedom of speech and thought are the antidote to corruption and coercion. Higher education is no exception.

Ralston College seeks both to reinvent the traditional academy—with degrees in person and online—and provide a platform for humanistic inquiry for anyone, anywhere.

Ralston is based in Savannah, and has now been authorized for operation, and awarded its degree-granting powers, by the state of Georgia. We look forward to announcing our first offerings, which will include both degree and non-degree programs and courses, both in-person and online: from a one-year Masters degree to events like our Savannah Symposium to online courses with renowned teachers around the world.

We have been thrilled to gather the support of many distinguished scholars, cultural figures, and supporters—from Jordan Peterson to Nobel Laureates Vernon Smith and the late Elie Wiesel (“I love new beginnings,” he said).

We know this is David against Goliath. But then, so did David. So did Paul Revere.

We know this is David against Goliath. But then, so did David. So did Paul Revere. So did the Greeks against the Persians. So did Edmund Campion. So did Frederick Douglas and Rosa Parks. But that didn’t stop them. And it shouldn’t stop us, either.

Especially not when we know there is a huge wave building—including thousands who have reached out to us—of young people who are seeking to recover a shared horizon, a culture of deeper human realization; in short, young people who want to build a better way.

Ralston College does not aim for solitary success, but to inspire a movement of all those who seek the truth with courage.

So, if you think you’ll be in the market for a prospective Master’s degree, put Ralston on your radar. If you’re a parent who wants to encourage your son or daughter to be the best he or she can be and earn a degree none of you will ever regret, sign up now for our newsletter to stay informed.

If you’re looking to explore the fundamental questions of human life with others committed to freely doing the same, join us for an online course or event. If you’re a prospective donor who may be tired of subsidizing dubious academic adventures in conventional higher education, or want to get in on the ground floor of a history-making educational endeavor, give me a call or shoot me an email.

We’d love to have you join us.

For additional information, see:

It’s Time to Stop Supporting Leftist Indoctrination Centers and Start Building New Schools by Stephen Blackwood

Ralston College’s website

Ralston College podcasts

The College Fix 

Campus Reform

The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal



* This article was originally published here
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