The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges

Princeton University Press

Why efforts to improve American higher educational attainment haven't worked, and where to go from here

During the first decade of this century, many commentators predicted that American higher education was about to undergo major changes that would be brought about under the stimulus of online learning and other technological advances. Toward the end of the decade, the president of the United States declared that America would regain its historic lead in the education of its workforce within the next ten years through a huge increase in the number of students earning “quality” college degrees.

Several years have elapsed since these pronouncements were made, yet the rate of progress has increased very little, if at all, in the number of college graduates or the nature and quality of the education they receive. In The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges, Derek Bok seeks to explain why so little change has occurred by analyzing the response of America’s colleges; the influence of students, employers, foundations, accrediting organizations, and government officials; and the impact of market forces and technological innovation. In the last part of the book, Bok identifies a number of initiatives that could improve the performance of colleges and universities. The final chapter examines the process of change itself and describes the strategy best calculated to quicken the pace of reform and enable colleges to meet the challenges that confront them.

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About the author

Derek Bok is the 300th Anniversary University Research Professor, professor of law, and president emeritus of Harvard University. His many books include Higher Education in America, Our Underachieving Colleges, and Universities in the Marketplace (all Princeton).
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Additional Information

Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 28, 2017
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Education / Educational Policy & Reform / General
Education / Higher
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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.

During the past forty years, thousands of studies have been carried out on the subject of happiness. Some have explored the levels of happiness or dissatisfaction associated with typical daily activities, such as working, seeing friends, or doing household chores. Others have tried to determine the extent to which income, family, religion, and other factors are associated with the satisfaction people feel about their lives. The Gallup organization has begun conducting global surveys of happiness, and several countries are considering publishing periodic reports on the growth or decline of happiness among their people. One nation, tiny Bhutan, has actually made "Gross National Happiness" the central aim of its domestic policy. How might happiness research affect government policy in the United States--and beyond? In The Politics of Happiness, former Harvard president Derek Bok examines how governments could use the rapidly growing research data on what makes people happy--in a variety of policy areas to increase well-being and improve the quality of life for all their citizens.

Bok first describes the principal findings of happiness researchers. He considers how reliable the results appear to be and whether they deserve to be taken into account in devising government policies. Recognizing both the strengths and weaknesses of happiness research, Bok looks at the policy implications for economic growth, equality, retirement, unemployment, health care, mental health, family programs, education, and government quality, among other subjects. Timely and incisive, The Politics of Happiness sheds new light on what makes people happy and how government policy could foster greater satisfaction for all.

نال جائزة فراندسون الفضية لعام 2003 لأدبيات التعليم العالي، جمعية التعليم الجامعي المستمر.
نال جائزة أليس ل. بيمن للأبحاث لعام 2004 في التواصل من أجل التطور التعليمي، مجلس تطور ودعم التعليم.
هل يصلح كل شيء في الجامعة للبيع إذا كان السعر جيداً؟ يظهر في هذا الكتاب أحد أهم المدرسين في أمريكا محذراً من أن الجواب غالباً ما يكون «نعم». وإذ يسبر ديرك بروك الجهود المبذولة في الجامعات لتحقيق ربح مالي لا من الألعاب الرياضية وحدها، بل من التعليم والأبحاث أيضاً، وبأرقام متصاعدة، فهو يلقي للمرة الأولى نظرة شاملة على تنامي إضفاء الصفة التجارية في مؤسساتنا الأكاديمية. وهو يبين كيف تؤدي هذه المشاريع إلى إضعاف القيم الأكاديمية الأساسية ويعرض التدابير التي يمكن للجامعات اتخاذها للحد من هذا الضرر.
«إنه متبصر أصيل... بوك واحد من الرجال القدماء البارزين في التعليم العالي الأمريكي»
ـ وارن بينس وستيفن ب. سامبل، لوس أنجلس تايمز.
«لمّاح منصف... ديريك بوك رجل مدرك للأمور، وضع كتاباً عن إضفاء الصفة التجارية في الجامعة الأمريكية».
ـ جوناثان يردلي، واشنغتن بوست بوك وورلد.
«يعرض بوك حججاً قاطعة تلح على إعادة توجيه الجامعات نحو العمل لخدمة غايتها الفريدة دون أن يشوهها تأثير المال الغادر. وهو يزعم أن إبطال هذا الميل المفرط إلى إضفاء الصفة التجارية ليس أمراً متعذر التحقيق».
ـ يو إس إيه تودي.
«يبدأ ديريك بوك كتابه الجديد بكابوس عن جشع الجامعة وفساد الأخلاق. صحيح أن بعض خطط جني المال خيالية، إلا أن الأخطار المتأصلة في الطلب النهم على تحقيق الأرباح ليست بخيالية أبداً، وهو ما يحذر منه السيد بوك».
ـ أنتوني دبليو. ماركس، نيويورك تايمز.
«يطرح كثيرا ًمن الأسئلة الكبيرة المقلقة.. فالجامعات التي تشوه الصلة بين ثقافتها وبين ثقافة العالم قد تعرض قيمها للخطر دون أن تزيد كثيراً في قيمة ما تجنيه من هبات. ومع نشر هذا الكتاب، ليس لجامعات الأمة القول: إن أحداً لم ينبهها إلى الخطر».
ـ ديفيد م. شريبمن، شيكاغو تريبيون.

العبيكان للنشر 

Is everything in a university for sale if the price is right? In this book, one of America's leading educators cautions that the answer is all too often "yes." Taking the first comprehensive look at the growing commercialization of our academic institutions, Derek Bok probes the efforts on campus to profit financially not only from athletics but increasingly, from education and research as well. He shows how such ventures are undermining core academic values and what universities can do to limit the damage.

Commercialization has many causes, but it could never have grown to its present state had it not been for the recent, rapid growth of money-making opportunities in a more technologically complex, knowledge-based economy. A brave new world has now emerged in which university presidents, enterprising professors, and even administrative staff can all find seductive opportunities to turn specialized knowledge into profit.

Bok argues that universities, faced with these temptations, are jeopardizing their fundamental mission in their eagerness to make money by agreeing to more and more compromises with basic academic values. He discusses the dangers posed by increased secrecy in corporate-funded research, for-profit Internet companies funded by venture capitalists, industry-subsidized educational programs for physicians, conflicts of interest in research on human subjects, and other questionable activities.

While entrepreneurial universities may occasionally succeed in the short term, reasons Bok, only those institutions that vigorously uphold academic values, even at the cost of a few lucrative ventures, will win public trust and retain the respect of faculty and students. Candid, evenhanded, and eminently readable, Universities in the Marketplace will be widely debated by all those concerned with the future of higher education in America and beyond.

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