After 1975, education only grew 1 percent annually. And instead of growing in student numbers, it diversified in regard to student composition (from white men to underrepresented and international groups of students). In other words, it is during the educational prime of the X’ers, that not only the diversification of the student and faculty body took hold, but alongside it, academies began to question and redefine the state of disciplines and of the humanities. Some of the main principles of the past, including the notion that scientific facts served as the standard for excellence in research, the specialization of the research professor and its effects on the creation of academic disciplines, began to splinter and authority was questioned through more interdisciplinary approaches, the creation of programs that centered on perspectives that disciplines were leaving left out (women and gender issues, queer issues, and so on), and the social privilege of academic professionalization and its relation to larger cultural issues. Because of the shrinking size of academia, Menand points to the fact that placement of PhD’s between 1989 and 1996 had to confront a market where supply outpaced demand for new professors, meaning that, as is often heard in studies on Generation X, American society was now confronted with “a lost generation of scholars, a lost cohort” (147).
I wonder, to what degree did developments in higher education (on an institutional level) in other countries around the world feed into the worldview of the “Generation X” identity as lost, questioning, searching, or re-engaging and redefining academia through different paradigms?
~ Christine Henseler, July 28, 2012