In recent decades, cognitive psychologists have cast new light on human development and given colleges new possibilities for helping students acquire skills and qualities that will enhance their lives and increase their contributions to society. In this landmark book, Derek Bok explores how colleges can reap the benefits of these discoveries and create a more robust undergraduate curriculum for the twenty-first century.
Prior to this century, most psychologists thought that creativity, empathy, resilience, conscientiousness, and most personality traits were largely fixed by early childhood. What researchers have now discovered is that virtually all of these qualities continue to change through early adulthood and often well beyond. Such findings suggest that educators may be able to do much more than was previously thought possible to teach students to develop these important characteristics and thereby enable them to flourish in later life.
How prepared are educators to cultivate these qualities of mind and behavior? What do they need to learn to capitalize on the possibilities? Will college faculties embrace these opportunities and make the necessary changes in their curricula and teaching methods? What can be done to hasten the process of innovation and application? In providing answers to these questions, Bok identifies the hurdles to institutional change, proposes sensible reforms, and demonstrates how our colleges can help students lead more successful, productive, and meaningful lives.
Awards and Recognition
- One of Forbes' Best Higher Education Books of 2020
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 as interim president from 2006 to 2007. His many books include The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges, Higher Education in America, Our Underachieving Colleges, and The Shape of the River (all Princeton).
"Building on his clear-eyed assessment of the state of teaching in higher education, Derek Bok has turned to society's expectations for the preparation of college students for all aspects of life in the world: can teachers convey life skills beyond class content? Higher Expectations provides a wide-ranging, pragmatic, and at times critical map for the enterprise that Bok has served for seventy years."—James L. Shulman, vice president of the American Council of Learned Societies
"Higher Expectations is a remarkably fresh and candid look at what higher education can and cannot do to meet today's challenges. Derek Bok's temperate prose cannot conceal his passionate concern that our colleges and universities are falling critically short of equipping students with what they need in the twenty-first century, making his proposed curricular remedies all the more compelling. Remarkably fresh, deeply informed, and persuasively written, Higher Expectations embodies Derek Bok's work at its best."—Michael McPherson, President Emeritus, The Spencer Foundation
"As higher education grapples with epochal disruption, Derek Bok—the nation's indefatigable dean for all seasons—provides in Higher Expectations exactly what all educators will need to rebuild: a cogent and compelling articulation of higher education's core educational purposes, from venerable goals, like educating citizens and cultivating evidence-based reasoning, to such suddenly urgent priorities as resilience, design thinking, and creativity. Across these pages, Bok both outlines the emergent contours of an empowering liberal education, and models in his own prose the finest benefits of liberal learning: careful analysis, reasoned, research-informed judgment, thoughtful attention to dissenting positions, and an abiding conviction that college learning can and should help our society build a better tomorrow."—Carol Geary Schneider, President Emerita, Association of American Colleges and Universities
"In this elegant, wise, and generous book, Derek Bok directs his gaze to how colleges and universities can rethink the educational enterprise to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. Bok is as close as we get to higher education royalty."—Joshua Kim, coauthor of Learning Innovation and the Future of Higher Education
"Timely and important. Bok's analysis of modern higher education is authoritative and insightful, and his recommendations are convincing. Anyone concerned with the future of higher education should study and act upon this book."—William Damon, author of The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life