Higher Education in America [NOOK Book]


Higher Education in America is a landmark work--a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the current condition of our colleges and universities from former Harvard president Derek Bok, one of the nation's most respected education experts. Sweepingly ambitious in scope, this is a deeply informed and balanced assessment of the many strengths as well as the weaknesses of American higher education today. At a time when colleges and universities have never been more important to the lives and opportunities of ...

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Higher Education in America

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Higher Education in America is a landmark work--a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the current condition of our colleges and universities from former Harvard president Derek Bok, one of the nation's most respected education experts. Sweepingly ambitious in scope, this is a deeply informed and balanced assessment of the many strengths as well as the weaknesses of American higher education today. At a time when colleges and universities have never been more important to the lives and opportunities of students or to the progress and prosperity of the nation, Bok provides a thorough examination of the entire system, public and private, from community colleges and small liberal arts colleges to great universities with their research programs and their medical, law, and business schools. Drawing on the most reliable studies and data, he determines which criticisms of higher education are unfounded or exaggerated, which are issues of genuine concern, and what can be done to improve matters.

Some of the subjects considered are long-standing, such as debates over the undergraduate curriculum and concerns over rising college costs. Others are more recent, such as the rise of for-profit institutions and massive open online courses (MOOCs). Additional topics include the quality of undergraduate education, the stagnating levels of college graduation, the problems of university governance, the strengths and weaknesses of graduate and professional education, the environment for research, and the benefits and drawbacks of the pervasive competition among American colleges and universities.

Offering a rare survey and evaluation of American higher education as a whole, this book provides a solid basis for a fresh public discussion about what the system is doing right, what it needs to do better, and how the next quarter century could be made a period of progress rather than decline.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/02/2013
It's hard to imagine anyone better equipped to write this book than two-time Harvard president Bok (The Shape of the River), whose experience, professional knowledge, and scrupulous research pervade every page of this eminently readable study of American higher education. Keenly establishing the diversity of higher learning institutions in the early chapters, then addressing professional schools, Bok's comprehensive approach covers an array of rising concerns, including: "our stagnating graduation rates"; attrition in graduate school; the increased importance of research in the sciences; and "the hazards of commercialization." His purview extends from the historic roots of the American college to the impact of technology and expansion to overseas locations. Practical suggestions abound, such as steps colleges can take to improve graduation rates. No aspect of academic professional life is neglected; Bok takes notice that writing letters of recommendation is "a burden on the faculty out of all proportion to any real value served" and of "the emergence of China as a rising powerhouse in science and engineering research." Broad as Bok's scope is, its coherent structure, lucid style, and balanced tone ensure that this important scholarship is also a pleasure to read. It is a book of tremendous long-lasting value. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"Magisterial."--Stanley Fish, New York Times

"[Higher Education in America is] a magisterial yet often contrarian assessment of challenges facing university governance, teaching, and, indeed, survival."--Jim Sleeper, Huffington Post

"A thought-provoking book that defies political stereotypes. Because of its nuances, the book is a refreshing change from the openly hostile diatribes attacking higher education in recent years."--Peter Sacks, Minding the Campus

"Bok draws on the latest empirical research to set the record straight about systems of governance, undergraduate education, doctoral programs, medical schools, law schools, and business schools, teaching, research, and tenure, tuition, financial aid, affirmative action, the role of government, inter-collegiate athletics, online education, for-profit institutions, and what he calls 'matters of genuine concern.' Comprehensive, judicious, probing, and immensely informative, written for students, parents, and taxpayers as well as 'insiders,' it is one of the best books to appear on this subject in decades."--Glenn Altschuler, Huffington Post

"Monumental. . . . [Bok's] assessment is measured and clear, and we may confidently refer young academics and administrators to Higher Education in America as a primer on current affairs."--Mark Bauerlein, Weekly Standard

"A detailed progress report on the challenges and opportunities facing our nation's colleges and universities. . . . Competition among schools produces benefits and causes problems. Most of the important ones are addressed in Bok's helpful volume. I hope he is right that we already have the ingredients in place to make the necessary reforms. I know we need university leaders like him to help activate those ingredients so that American higher education can continue to contribute in vital ways to our culture, our economy and our polity."--Michael S. Roth, Washington Post

"In the past few years, UK government ministers have paid a lot of attention to the American higher education system, and some new ideas introduced in England, at least, have come directly from the US. Higher Education in America, written by a former president of Harvard University, serves to highlight the similarities between issues we face in the UK with those in the US. . . . Easy to read and comprehensive. . . . A useful overview of the state of US higher education in the early 21st century."--Mary Stuart, Times Higher Education

"Hold on to your mortarboard; [Higher Education in America has] got five fat sections on the state of instruction at the undergrad then graduate level, with umpteen analyses of market forces at each turn, plus five forewords and four afterwords! Despite this daunting breadth, Bok keeps it real."--Katharine Whittemore, Boston Globe

"One theme that I found particularly useful in Higher Education in America is Bok's treatment of undergraduate education and curriculum. Bok underlines the value of a broad university education at every level--for the individual, for the business who hires him or her, and for the society. . . . The book is worth reading carefully by faculty leaders and university administrators as they make their best efforts to enhance the educational effectiveness of their programs."--Daniel Little, Understanding Society blog

"Derek Bok asks all the right questions about higher education, and his experience, research, and staggering intelligence pervade every page. The real value here lies in Bok's thorough examination of some of the most urgent challenges facing higher education--and in his spot-on recommendations for what needs to be done to address these concerns. This is an important book for both academics and families looking at a future in higher education."--Grandparents.com

"Highly recommended for education professionals, policy advocates, and the broad public as a thorough and thoughtful examination that assesses strengths and weaknesses and suggests paths to academic improvement."--Elizabeth Hayford, Library Journal starred review

"Derek Bok . . . has a breathtaking grasp of higher education worldwide, and he states his positions in a lucid and learned manner. Moreover, he presents copious evidence to back his assertions so that the reader who wishes to challenge him knows precisely what data support his contentions."--Edward P. Sheridan, PsycCRITIQUES

"With more than two decades of service as president of Harvard University behind him, Derek Bok has views on higher education that must be taken seriously. . . . Now in Higher Education in America, the Harvard professor offers a comprehensive and up-to-date volume that gathers analysis of these and numerous other topics in one place."--Choice

"Ambitious and thought-provoking, Higher Education in America represents an informed and informative addition to ongoing debates at the national, state, and institutional levels about the aims higher education ought to aspire to and how best to achieve them."--David M. Brown & John Thelin, Teachers College Record

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400848300
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 8/25/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 1,415,084
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Derek Bok is the 300th Anniversary University Research Professor at Harvard University. He served as the twenty-fifth president of Harvard from 1971 to 1991, and he served again as interim president from 2006 to 2007. His many books include Our Underachieving Colleges, Universities in the Marketplace, and the acclaimed best seller The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions (all Princeton).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1
Part I The Context
Foreword (I) 7
Chapter One The American System of Higher Education 9
Chapter Two Purposes, Goals, and Limits to Growth 28
Chapter Three The Governance of Nonprofit Universities 44
Afterword (I) 72
Part II Undergraduate Education
Foreword (II) 77
Chapter Four Going to College and Earning a Degree 81
Chapter Five Paying for College: The Challenge for Policy-Makers and Academic Leaders 98
Chapter Six Entering the Right College 122
Chapter Seven The Expanding Audience for Higher Education 145
Chapter Eight What to Learn 166
Chapter Nine How to Teach 183
Chapter Ten Prospects for Reform 201
Afterword (II) 220
Chapter Eleven Graduate Education
Part III Professional Education
Foreword (III) 249
Chapter Twelve Medical Schools 256
Chapter Thirteen Law Schools 271
Chapter Fourteen Business Schools 287
Afterword (III) 306
Part IV Research
Foreword (IV) 321
Chapter Fifteen "Publish or Perish" 328
Chapter Sixteen The Changing Nature of Scientific Research 342
Chapter Seventeen The Environment for Research 358
Afterword (IV) 377
Part V A Final Reckoning
Foreword (V) 383
Chapter Eighteen Matters of Genuine Concern 387
The Last Word 408

Notes 413
Index 453

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