Universities and the Future of America

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Overview

Since World War II, says the author, industrialized nations have come to depend so heavily on expert knowledge, scientific discovery, and highly trained personnel that universities have become “the central institution in postindustrial society.”
“If universities are so important to society and if ours are so superior, one might have thought that America would be flourishing in comparison to other industrialized countries of the world. Yet this is plainly not the case. . . . Our economic position in the world has deteriorated [and] we have climbed to the top, or near the top, of all advanced countries in the percentage of population who live in poverty, commit crimes, become addicted to drugs, have illegitimate children, or are classified as functionally illiterate.” In light of these results, “it is fair to ask whether our universities are doing all they can and should to help America surmount the obstacles that sap our economic strength and blight the lives of millions of our people.”
Having posed this question, Derek Bok reviews what science can do to bring about greater productivity, what professional schools can do to improve the effectiveness of corporations, government, and public education, and what all parts of the university are doing to help students acquire higher levels of ethical and social responsibility. He concludes that Universities are contributing much less than the should to help the nation address its most urgent social problems. “A century after the death of Cardinal Newman, many university officials and faculty members continue to feel ambivalent about deliberate efforts to address practical problems of society. And though competition drives university leaders and their faculties to unremitting effort, what competition rewards is chiefly success in fields that command academic prestige rather than success in responding to important social needs.”
Bok urges academic leaders, trustees, foundations, and government agencies to work together to help universities realign their priorities “so that they will be ready to make their full contribution when the nation turns its attention again to the broad agenda of reform. . . . Observing our difficulties competing abroad, our millions of people in poverty, our drug-ridden communities, our disintegrating families, our ineffective schools, those who help to shape our universities have reason to ask whether they too have any time to lose.”

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Bok, president of Harvard, points out ways in which American colleges and universities might help solve defects in the public schools, government deficiencies, the poverty cycle, illiteracy, drug abuse, joblessness, and family disintegration. He suggests addressing these problems through a collegiate program reinforcing ethical behavior patterns and heightened social responsibility. This volume can be considered a direct sequel to his Beyond the Ivory Tower: Social Responsibilities of the Modern University (Harvard, 1982) and an indirect sequel to Higher Education (Harvard, 1986). Many of his recommendations are already in use in community, technical, and junior colleges. This book is intended for students of higher education and college/university administrators. All academic libraries should acquire it.-- Scott Johnson, Meridian Community Coll. Lib., Miss.
Booknews
Subtitled, Corporate liberalism and the reconstruction of American higher education, 1894-1928. Barrow (political science, Southeastern Mass. U.) argues (and demonstrates) that government and the private sector have guided the development and management of the university. Harvard president Bok urges academic leaders, trustees, foundations, and government agencies to work together to help universities realign their priorities to aid the nation in addressing its most urgent social problems and its competitive international position. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822310365
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 135
  • Lexile: 1500L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 0.72 (d)

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