Book Rec: “Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Colleges and Universities” -Mark C. Taylor

Taylor’s “Crisis on Campus” is a critique of the structure of American higher education as we know it today. He argues that this structure, which is based upon out-dated societal models, has led to a lack of quality, waining relevance, un-affordability, and decreased accesibility. He contends that higher education is doing a lack luster job of preparing students for an increasingly globalized world, and he puts much of the blame for this on faculty preoccupation with research, overly-speacialized academic silos, and a bifurcated system of haves and have-nots.

To address these issues, Taylor says we must first begin to understand and incorporate into the university the interconnectivity and permeability of knowledge now made possible through technology. (This assertion reminded me a lot of the thesis of David Weinberger’s “Too Big Too Know,” which I recommended in this post). On page 21, Taylor says,

“When the organization of knowledge changes, the structure of educational institutions must be transformed.”

And he goes on in subsequent chapters outlining specific suggestions for institutional restructuring, spelling out the implications for reserach, publication and teaching, as well as addressing the impact of these changes on tenure.

Taylor also touches upon the need for what he terms a “redistribution of intellectual and cultural capital,” arguing that new government programs should be instituted to foster cooperation between the haves (i.e., the Ivies) and have-nots (i.e., poorer and less prestigous public colleges).

Overall, it’s a provocative read. Taylor most strongly adovoates for the estbalishment of interdisciplinary curriculums and research initiatives which transcend departments and even institutions, and focus on solving society’s largest and most pressing problems.

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