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Navigating the "Post-Employment" Economy:

A Deeper Look at the Crisis of Higher Education

An Interview with Sarah Kendzior




    Sarah Kendzior is a writer for Al Jazeera English who covers politics, the economy and media. She is best known for her articles on the "prestige economy", the crisis of Higher Ed., and the exploitation of unpaid labor. She has a PhD in cultural anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis and an MA in Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University.



In this interview, Sarah and I discuss the the rise of what she terms the "prestige economy," which refers to the rise in exploitation of unpaid labor in fields as diverse as arts and entertainment, to policy and law, to academia. We discuss the complex implications of the prestige economy on the millenial generation who are now entering the workforce at a uniquely challenging time in history.


We then dive deep into a discussion about the state of Higher Education in America today (although American academia is highlighted, the insights offered have many cross-over applications to other countries around the world, including my home country Canada). We explore the reasons behind the startling upward spikes in university tuition fees over the last decade, and discuss the unsustainable debt load being taken on by millenials-- a debt crisis some have compared to the mortgage lending bubble crisis of 2008.


We also discuss the rise of alternative educational outlets like the internet, MOOCS, and other entrepreneurial endeavors attempting to rival Universities in giving access to education and career choices. We assess these alternatives in their usefulness for preparing young people for jobs of the future.


This talk offers some important insights to consider for anyone considering going to University or attempting to build a career in the current economy.



Sarah's academic research focuses on digital media and politics in former Soviet authoritarian states, in particular Uzbekistan, and has been published in journals including American Ethnologist and the Journal of Communication. In addition to Al Jazeera, she writes a monthly column for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and has also written for Foreign Policy, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate, the Atlantic, and Radio Free Europe. Kendzior is based in St. Louis.


You can visit Sarah's website and read more of her work at:



For some quick links to more resources on the issues discussed in our dialogue, click on the links below:




Ripping off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal

by Matt Taibbi

Featured on Rolling Stones


Surviving the Post-Employment Economy

by Sarah Kendzior

Featured on Al Jazeera English


The Unaffordable Baby Boomer Dream

by Sarah Kendzior

Featured on Al Jazeera English





                   photo from Al Jazeera America





To listen to more Dialogues in this Series, click here.




This Dialogue was recorded January 25, 2014

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