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The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University (Issues of Our Time)by Louis Menand
Synopses & Reviews
Why do professors all tend to think alike? What makes it so hard for colleges to decide which subjects should be required? Why do teachers and scholars find it so difficult to transcend the limits of their disciplines? Why, in short, are problems that should be easy for universities to solve so intractable? The answer, Louis Menand argues, is that the institutional structure and the educational philosophy of higher education have remained the same for one hundred years, while faculties and student bodies have radically changed and technology has drastically transformed the way people produce and disseminate knowledge. At a time when competition to get into and succeed in college has never been more intense, universities are providing a less-useful education. Sparking a long-overdue debate about the future of American education, examines what professors and students--and all the rest of us--might be better off without, while assessing what it is worth saving in our traditional university institutions.
Book News Annotation:
In this volume, The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University, Menand (English, Harvard U.), who was involved in the development of a new general education curriculum at Harvard, analyzes the American university system, the philosophical and historical ideas that created it in the nineteenth century, and their development since then. Focusing on the liberal arts and sciences, he notes that the system has changed very little and focuses on four questions--why it is difficult to institute a general education curriculum, why the humanities discipline underwent a crisis of legitimation, why interdisciplinarity has become important, and why professors have the same politics--and proposes reforms to the system. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Has American higher education become a dinosaur?
At a time when competition to get into and succeed in college has never been more intense, universities are providing a less-useful education. "The Marketplace of Ideas" assesses what is important in a traditional university--and what is not.
"Crisp and illuminating . . . well worth reading."—Wall Street Journal
The publication of The Marketplace of Ideashas precipitated a lively debate about the future of the American university system: what makes it so hard for colleges to decide which subjects are required? Why are so many academics against the concept of interdisciplinary studies? From his position at the heart of academe, Harvard professor Louis Menand thinks he's found the answer. Despite the vast social changes and technological advancements that have revolutionized the society at large, general principles of scholarly organization, curriculum, and philosophy have remained remarkably static. Sparking a long-overdue debate about the future of American education, The Marketplace of Ideasargues that twenty-first-century professors and students are essentially trying to function in a nineteenth-century system, and that the resulting conflict threatens to overshadow the basic pursuit of knowledge and truth.
About the Author
Louis Menand, professor of English at Harvard University, is the author of The Metaphysical Club, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in History. A longtime staff writer for The New Yorker, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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