Bok concludes that the competition for the best students, the most advanced scholarship, the most successful scientific research, the best facilities--has helped to produce venturesome, adaptable, and varied universities. But because the process of learning itself is imperfectly understood, it is difficult to achieve sustained progress in the quality of education or even to determine which educational innovations actually enhance learning.
In this readable assessment of contemporary American higher education, the president of Harvard comments on what is right and wrong with the teaching and learning processes at the major research universities. With refreshing frankness Bok raises a number of provocative topics, such as the double-edged sword of colleges' competition for everything from athletics to government grants, and professional schools' neglect of the teaching of ethics. Weighing the pros and cons of new trends such as life-long professional education and the computer revolution, Bok considers their long-range impact on tradition-bound institutions of higher learning. He is realistic about the many problems facing higher education, and optimistic about its future. A solid purchase for collections where there is an interest in higher education. Patricia Smith Butcher, Trenton State Coll. Lib., N.J.