What's the Point of College?: Seeking Purpose in an Age of Reform

What's the Point of College?: Seeking Purpose in an Age of Reform

by Johann N. Neem


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In our current age of reform, there are countless ideas about how to "fix" higher education. But before we can reconceptualize the college experience, we need to remember why we have these institutions in the first place—and what we want from them.

In What's the Point of College?, historian Johann N. Neem offers a new way to think about the major questions facing higher education today, from online education to disruptive innovation to how students really learn. As commentators, reformers, and policymakers call for dramatic change and new educational models, this collection of lucid essays asks us to pause and take stock. What is a college education supposed to be? What kinds of institutions and practices will best help us get there? And which virtues must colleges and universities cultivate to sustain their desired ends?

During this time of drift, Neem argues, we need to moor our colleges once again to their core purposes. By evaluating reformers' goals in relation to the specific goods that a college should offer to students and society, What's the Point of College? connects public policy to deeper ethical questions. Exploring how we can ensure that America's colleges remain places for intellectual inquiry and reflection, Neem does not just provide answers to the big questions surrounding higher education—he offers readers a guide for how to think about them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421429885
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 08/13/2019
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 262,576
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Johann N. Neem is a professor of history at Western Washington University. He is the author of Creating a Nation of Joiners: Democracy and Civil Society in Early National Massachusetts and Democracy's Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America.

Table of Contents

Preface. On Education versus Degrees
Introduction. On the Purpose(s) of College Education
Part I. Context
Chapter 1. On Disruptive Innovation
Chapter 2. On Two Recent Occasions
Chapter 3. On For-Profit Schools
Part II. Curriculum
Chapter 4. On STEM
Chapter 5. On the Humanities
Chapter 6. On Business Majors
Part III. Teaching
Chapter 7. On Time and Experience
Chapter 8. On Online Education
Chapter 9. On Critical Thinking
Part IV. Scholarship
Chapter 10. On the PhD
Chapter 11. On Research
Chapter 12. On Academic Writing
Conclusion. On the Future
Epilogue. On Talking with Students

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Zimmerman

"At at time when the collegiate ideal is under assault from all sides, Johann Neem provides precisely the defense that it needs. His book is the best short argument for our colleges that I've read in recent years. Let's hope that our leaders read it, too."

Vartan Gregorian

"At a time when higher education has become 'hire' education, Johann Neem reminds us that the value of a college degree lies not in its earning power, but rather in its ability to enhance a human being's power of rational analysis, intellectual precision and independent judgement, as well as foster mental adaptability in a rapidly changing world. This timely book affirms that the mission of higher education is to prepare young men and women for the rest of their lives, not just their first job."

Andrew Delbanco

"An exceptionally informed contribution to the debate over the future of undergraduate education. Neem writes with calm clarity, but there is no mistaking the urgency of his call to defend an endangered and essential institution."

Garrison Walters

"There are few topics of more importance to contemporary America than education reform. Given Neem's knowledge, insight, and talent, What's the Point of College? has the potential to be both an important scholarly work and a much-discussed book among the nation's thought leaders. Each of the essays is excellent."

Edward Ayers

"Johann Neem brings a rare combination of clarity, expertise, and compassion to this portrayal of American higher education. Cutting through the cant and condescension that marks so much punditry on the topic, Neem makes a persuasive case for an education of human connection for all students."

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What's the Point of College?: Seeking Purpose in an Age of Reform 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Sharon_Arundel 18 days ago
This is a well laid out book that discusses the purpose of colleges, how they were viewed and used to how they are now and possibly going to be in the future. It’s written in an easy to read manner so that everyone should be able to read, follow and understand his point of view. The author seems knowledgeable about the subject and seems to have taken a realistic viewpoint regarding this subject. I recommend this book to anyone who is entering college or due to enter it in the coming year as well as parents and other friends and relatives who are interested in the education of our future.