Educator to address today's "war on youth" and its effect on society

by Pamela Young, Published April 06, 2010

YPSILANTI - Henry Giroux believes today’s youth are ostracized and alienated. Add in other societal problems and it’s an issue, he says, is a social time bomb.

Giroux, the third and final recipient of Eastern Michigan University’s 2010 John W. Porter Distinguished Chair in Urban Education, will discuss problems facing youth and their effects on society, Thursday, April 8, 7 p.m., Roosevelt Auditorium.

His lecture, “Shattered Bonds: Youth in a Suspect Society and the Politics of Disposability,” will be followed by a book signing. The event is free and open to the public.

A critical theorist, Giroux is recognized as one of the top 50 thinkers in the world on education and culture for the 20th century. He currently is professor of English and Cultural Studies, and Global TV Network Chair in Communications at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.

“Giroux’s greatest contribution is his capacity to move his work outside of the academy and into the public,” said Christopher Robbins, EMU assistant professor of social foundations in the Department of Teacher Education. “He is a classic public intellectual, unafraid of asking and pursuing the most disturbing questions of our time.”

Giroux’s research focuses on what he calls the “war on youth.“ His goal, he says, is to offer a larger concept to “connect the dots between poverty, education, militarization, incarceration, higher education and jobs.” He believes these problems have hurt today’s youth, and the jobless rate of poor minority youth is both a social time bomb and a huge drain on the economy.

“His talk will help us understand and think through perhaps the most disturbing question of our times: Why has our society enveloped and encased youth in a corrosive mixture of draconian punishment and increasingly routine exclusion? “ said Robbins. “Given the vast social and civic death being experienced by youth, what does this mean for our collective future and the viability of democratic public life?”

A native of Rhode Island, Giroux received his doctorate from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1977. He was a professor of education at Boston University from 1977 to 1983. In 1983, he was named professor of education and renowned scholar in residence at Ohio’s Miami University and also served as director at the University’s Center for Education and Cultural Studies.

He then was appointed to the Waterbury Chair Professorship at Pennsylvania State University in 1992, a position he held until 2004, when he moved to McMaster University

The John W. Porter Distinguished Chair in Urban Education was established to expand Eastern Michigan’s role in urban education. This year’s lecture series has centered on community collaboration in challenging times. Podcasts of the Porter lectures can be found in iTunesU.

For more information, call the College of Education at 734.487.1414.

Pamela Young

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