Canadian higher education has in the past few years succumbed to a mood of despair and defensiveness. Until just a few years ago, it was characterized by a confident, forward-looking energy, secure in the notion that it was the pre eminent engine of national development. Since then, we have seen our relative salaries decline; our plant, equipment, and libraries erode; our jobs threatened; and the value of our contribution to Canadian society severely questioned. A number of explanations could be given for this dramatic reversal of our fortunes, with emphasis ranging from demographics to poor public relations, from econo mic stagnation to short-sighted political manoeuvering. One popular explanation is that Canadian higher education is now Qustly) paying off debts it incurred in a Faustian compact with homo economicus. We financed our tremendous growth of yesteryear, this explanation purports, on promises of contributing substantially (or worse, by ourselves, delivering) u nprecedented economic growth and indus trial expansion. Now that industrial expansion has come to a standstill (and even
declined), the primary case for generous funding of higher education is at best called into question, and at worst severely u ndermined.
For those who accept this retributional explanation of the cause of the current crisis of finance and purpose in higher education, Global Stakes, will likely be perceived as one of the most exciting and optimism-creating books to come along in several years, and one which may galvanize a new sense of pu rpose and direc tion among the scientific and technological sectors of higher
education. Reactions to this book in the higher education community as a whole, however, are likely to be extreme. Others may dismiss it as merely self-serving advancement of a computer/electronics lobby or pandering to the wishful fantasies of engineering deans. Humanists and classicists may (for reasons suggested by the authors) be simply bewildered by it, or wonder if the cure advanced in this book is worse than the present illness in higher education.