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In Defense of American Higher Education


reviewed by Leonard L. Baird — 2003

coverTitle: In Defense of American Higher Education
Author(s): Phillip G. Altbach, Patricia J. Gumport and D. Bruce Johnstone (Editors)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
ISBN: 0801866545, Pages: 368, Year: 2001
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Higher education is the object of many criticisms, as the contributors to this book ably explain.  Although Birnbaum and Shushok show that higher education has been considered to be in “crisis” about many of the same issues since at least the 1970s (finance, confidence, curriculum, stagnation, diversity and leadership), the level of criticism has reached new heights in recent years.  Some of the critiques focus on trends that affect the whole society, including higher education’s responses to technological change, demographic changes and globalization.  Some critiques focus on more internal issues, such as teaching methods, curriculum, and expenses.  The authors make several observations that are helpful in understanding this thicket of criticisms.  First, most of them are concerned with prestigious research universities and elite liberal arts colleges.  These colleges enroll a minority of students although their intellectual, cultural, and economic power is great.  Secondly, much of the criticism comes from within academe, as well as without.  Third, and perhaps most important, the critics make opposing claims.  For example, the view... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 1, 2003, p. 64-67
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10926, Date Accessed: 8/21/2017 7:51:02 AM

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About the Author
  • Leonard Baird
    The Ohio State University
    E-mail Author
    LEONARD L. BAIRD is Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership at The Ohio State University, and Editor of the Journal of Higher Education. Professor Baird spent most of the first half of his career as a research psychologist at the American College Testing Program and the Educational Testing Service. He was Professor in the Higher Education program at the University of Kentucky before joining OSU. His major interests and publications concern graduate education, college environments, the assessment of college outcomes, and the study of the impact of college on students.
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