Tracing the transformation of early modern academics into modern researchers from the Renaissance to Romanticism, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University uses the history of the university and reframes the "Protestant Ethic" to reconsider the conditions of knowledge production in the modern world.
William Clark argues that the research university—which originated in German Protestant lands and spread globally in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—developed in response to market forces and bureaucracy, producing a new kind of academic whose goal was to establish originality and achieve fame through publication. With an astonishing wealth of research, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University investigates the origins and evolving fixtures of academic life: the lecture catalogue, the library catalog, the grading system, the conduct of oral and written exams, the roles of conversation and the writing of research papers in seminars, the writing and oral defense of the doctoral dissertation, the ethos of "lecturing with applause" and "publish or perish," and the role of reviews and rumor. This is a grand, ambitious book that should be required reading for every academic.
In spite of soaring tuition costs, more and more students go to college every year. A bachelor’s degree is now required for entry into a growing number of professions. And some parents begin planning for the expense of sending their kids to college when they’re born. Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there?
For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s answer to that question is a definitive no. Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills—including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing—during their first two years of college. As troubling as their findings are, Arum and Roksa argue that for many faculty and administrators they will come as no surprise—instead, they are the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.
Academically Adrift holds sobering lessons for students, faculty, administrators, policy makers, and parents—all of whom are implicated in promoting or at least ignoring contemporary campus culture. Higher education faces crises on a number of fronts, but Arum and Roksa’s report that colleges are failing at their most basic mission will demand the attention of us all.
Class ends. Students pack up and head back to their dorms. The professor, meanwhile, goes to her car . . . to catch a little sleep, and then eat a cheeseburger in her lap before driving across the city to a different university to teach another, wholly different class. All for a paycheck that, once prep and grading are factored in, barely reaches minimum wage.
Welcome to the life of the mind in the gig economy. Over the past few decades, the job of college professor has been utterly transformed—for the worse. America’s colleges and universities were designed to serve students and create knowledge through the teaching, research, and stability that come with the longevity of tenured faculty, but higher education today is dominated by adjuncts. In 1975, only thirty percent of faculty held temporary or part-time positions. By 2011, as universities faced both a decrease in public support and ballooning administrative costs, that number topped fifty percent. Now, some surveys suggest that as many as seventy percent of American professors are working course-to-course, with few benefits, little to no security, and extremely low pay.
In The Adjunct Underclass, Herb Childress draws on his own firsthand experience and that of other adjuncts to tell the story of how higher education reached this sorry state. Pinpointing numerous forces within and beyond higher ed that have driven this shift, he shows us the damage wrought by contingency, not only on the adjunct faculty themselves, but also on students, the permanent faculty and administration, and the nation. How can we say that we value higher education when we treat educators like desperate day laborers?
Measured but passionate, rooted in facts but sure to shock, The Adjunct Underclass reveals the conflicting values, strangled resources, and competing goals that have fundamentally changed our idea of what college should be. This book is a call to arms for anyone who believes that strong colleges are vital to society.
There have been institutions of higher learning for centuries in Africa, but the phenomenal growth has taken place in the last fifty years, first in the later days of colonialism and then in the heady days of independence and commodity boom. Without them, there would have been no development.
The three highly distinguished authors have written the first comprehensive assessment of universities and higher education in Africa south of the Sahara. As can be seen from their biographies, they draw on experience from both francophone and anglophone Africa and from teaching in both the sciences and the arts.
In this book, philosopher Harry Brighouse and Spencer Foundation president Michael McPherson bring together leading philosophers to think about some of the most fundamental questions that higher education faces. Looking beyond the din of arguments over how universities should be financed, how they should be run, and what their contributions to the economy are, the contributors to this volume set their sights on higher issues: ones of moral and political value. The result is an accessible clarification of the crucial concepts and goals we so often skip over—even as they underlie our educational policies and practices.
The contributors tackle the biggest questions in higher education: What are the proper aims of the university? What role do the liberal arts play in fulfilling those aims? What is the justification for the humanities? How should we conceive of critical reflection, and how should we teach it to our students? How should professors approach their intellectual relationship with students, both in social interaction and through curriculum? What obligations do elite institutions have to correct for their historical role in racial and social inequality? And, perhaps most important of all: How can the university serve as a model of justice? The result is a refreshingly thoughtful approach to higher education and what it can, and should, be doing.
The world of national and international scholarships is more competitive than ever. Top students from across the county vie for a limited number of awards that provide the funding needed to participate in elite programs that can help launch the careers of those who receive the recognition. Scholarship foundation leaders have an insider’s view of the selection process, and experienced advisors prepare students to navigate applications and interviews. Both perspectives are represented here in this new collection emphasizing the importance of engaging a diverse group of students, institutions, and programs in the process as well as expanding the educational experience for students as they apply so that everyone benefits, no matter what the outcome.
In this refreshing and original exploration, George Dennis O'Brien looks at higher education in America. O'Brien argues that to debate intelligently the future of education we must stop focusing on its ideals and look instead at its institutions. He does this by addressing nine half-truths, such as whether "low cost public education benefits the least advantaged in society," and goes on to examine how accurately they reflect the true state of higher education. The result is a thought-provoking discussion of the present challenges and future prospects of American higher education.
"O'Brien's historical overview of the transition from 19th-century denominational colleges to 20th-century research-driven and largely secular ones is provocative. Cleverly written and well-focused, the book addresses the financial pressures facing higher education and asks vital questions about cutbacks and curricula."—Publishers Weekly
"Lively, engaging, and richly suggestive." —Francis Oakley, Commonweal
"O'Brien employs calm, powerful reason, without sensationalism. His perspective is illuminating. . . . All the Essential Half-Truths About Higher Education is one of the wisest and most useful treatments of American higher education." —John Attarian, Detroit News
At a time when American higher education seems ever more to be reflecting on its purpose and potential, we are more inclined than ever to look to its history for context and inspiration. But that history only helps, Paul H. Mattingly argues, if it’s seen as something more than a linear progress through time. With American Academic Cultures, he offers a different type of history of American higher learning, showing how its current state is the product of different, varied generational cultures, each grounded in its own moment in time and driven by historically distinct values that generated specific problems and responses.
Mattingly sketches out seven broad generational cultures: evangelical, Jeffersonian, republican/nondenominational, industrially driven, progressively pragmatic, internationally minded, and the current corporate model. What we see through his close analysis of each of these cultures in their historical moments is that the politics of higher education, both inside and outside institutions, are ultimately driven by the dominant culture of the time. By looking at the history of higher education in this new way, Mattingly opens our eyes to our own moment, and the part its culture plays in generating its politics and promise.
A trenchant critique of failure and opportunism across the political spectrum, American Idyll argues that social mobility, once a revered hallmark of American society, has ebbed, as higher education has become a mechanistic process for efficient sorting that has more to do with class formation than anything else. Academic freedom and aesthetic education are reserved for high-scoring, privileged students and vocational education is the only option for economically marginal ones.
Throughout most of American history, antielitist sentiment was reserved for attacks against an entrenched aristocracy or rapacious plutocracy, but it has now become a revolt against meritocracy itself, directed against what insurgents see as a ruling class of credentialed elites with degrees from exclusive academic institutions. Catherine Liu reveals that, within the academy and stemming from the relatively new discipline of cultural studies, animosity against expertise has animated much of the Left’s cultural criticism.
By unpacking the disciplinary formation and academic ambitions of American cultural studies, Liu uncovers the genealogy of the current antielitism, placing the populism that dominates headlines within a broad historical context. In the process, she emphasizes the relevance of the historical origins of populist revolt against finance capital and its political influence. American Idyll reveals the unlikely alliance between American pragmatism and proponents of the Frankfurt School and argues for the importance of broad frames of historical thinking in encouraging robust academic debate within democratic institutions. In a bold thought experiment that revives and defends Richard Hofstadter’s theories of anti-intellectualism in American life, Liu asks, What if cultural populism had been the consensus politics of the past three decades?
American Idyll shows that recent antielitism does nothing to redress the source of its discontent—namely, growing economic inequality and diminishing social mobility. Instead, pseudopopulist rage, in conservative and countercultural forms alike, has been transformed into resentment, content merely to take down allegedly elitist cultural forms without questioning the real political and economic consolidation of powers that has taken place in America during the past thirty years.
In higher education, the United States is the preeminent global leader, dominating the list of the world’s top research universities. But there are signs that America’s position of global leadership will face challenges in the future, as it has in other realms of international competition. American Universities in a Global Market addresses the variety of issues crucial to understanding this preeminence and this challenge. The book examines the various factors that contributed to America’s success in higher education, including openness to people and ideas, generous governmental support, and a tradition of decentralized friendly competition. It also explores the advantages of holding a dominant position in this marketplace and examines the current state of American higher education in a comparative context, placing particular emphasis on how market forces affect universities. By discussing the differences in quality among students and institutions around the world, this volume sheds light on the singular aspects of American higher education.
When it was published in 1968, a year noted for historic student protests on campuses across the country, The American University spoke in Jacques Barzun's characteristically wise and lucid voice about what colleges and universities were really meant to do—and how they actually worked. Drawing on a lifetime of extraordinary accomplishment as a teacher, administrator, and scholar, Barzun here describes the immense demands placed on the university by its competing constituencies—students, faculty, administrators, alumni, trustees, and the political world around it all.
"American higher education is fortunate to have had a scholar and intellectual of Jacques Barzun's stature give so many years of service to the daily bread-and-butter details of running a great university and then share his reflections with us in a literate, humane, and engaging book."—Charles Donovan, America
Few books have ever made their presence felt on college campuses—and newspaper opinion pages—as quickly and thoroughly as Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s 2011 landmark study of undergraduates’ learning, socialization, and study habits, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. From the moment it was published, one thing was clear: no university could afford to ignore its well-documented and disturbing findings about the failings of undergraduate education.
Now Arum and Roksa are back, and their new book follows the same cohort of undergraduates through the rest of their college careers and out into the working world. Built on interviews and detailed surveys of almost a thousand recent college graduates from a diverse range of colleges and universities, Aspiring Adults Adrift reveals a generation facing a difficult transition to adulthood. Recent graduates report trouble finding decent jobs and developing stable romantic relationships, as well as assuming civic and financial responsibility—yet at the same time, they remain surprisingly hopeful and upbeat about their prospects.
Analyzing these findings in light of students’ performance on standardized tests of general collegiate skills, selectivity of institutions attended, and choice of major, Arum and Roksa not only map out the current state of a generation too often adrift, but enable us to examine the relationship between college experiences and tentative transitions to adulthood. Sure to be widely discussed, Aspiring Adults Adrift will compel us once again to re-examine the aims, approaches, and achievements of higher education.
In 2013, the New York Times identified Nashville as America’s “it” city—a leading hub of music, culture, technology, food, and business. But long before, the Tennessee capital was known as the “Athens of the South,” as a reflection of the city’s reputation for and investment in its institutions of higher education, which especially blossomed after the end of the Civil War and through the New South Era from 1865 to 1930.
This wide-ranging book chronicles the founding and growth of Nashville’s institutions of higher education and their impressive impact on the city, region, and nation at large. Local colleges and universities also heavily influenced Nashville’s brand of modernity as evidenced by the construction of a Parthenon replica, the centerpiece of the 1897 Centennial Exposition. By the turn of the twentieth century, Vanderbilt University had become one of the country’s premier private schools, while nearby Peabody College was a leading teacher-training institution. Nashville also became known as a center for the education of African Americans. Fisk University joined the ranks of the nation’s most prestigious black liberal-arts universities, while Meharry Medical College emerged as one of the country’s few training centers for African American medical professionals. Following the agricultural-industrial model, Tennessee A&I became the state’s first black public college. Meanwhile, various other schools— Ward-Belmont, a junior college for women; David Lipscomb College, the instructional arm of the Church of Christ; and Roger Williams University, which trained black men and women as teachers and preachers—made important contributions to the higher educational landscape. In sum, Nashville was distinguished not only by the quantity of its schools but by their quality.
Linking these institutions to the progressive and educational reforms of the era, Mary Ellen Pethel also explores their impact in shaping Nashville’s expansion, on changing gender roles, and on leisure activity in the city, which included the rise and popularity of collegiate sports. In her conclusion, she shows that Nashville’s present-day reputation as a dynamic place to live, learn, and work is due in no small part to the role that higher education continues to play in the city’s growth and development.
MARY ELLEN PETHEL is the archivist and a member of the Social Science Department at Harpeth Hall School in Nashville. At Belmont University, also in Nashville, Dr. Pethel is a Global Leadership Studies Fellow and teaches in the Honors Department.