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.
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).
"Magisterial."--Stanley Fish, New York Times
"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
"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
"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
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Derek Bok: