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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues

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Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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Part Two: Should Liberal Education Be Modified?

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← 32 | 33 →

Part Two:  Should Liberal Education Be Modified?

In “The Urgent Need for Liberal Education in Today’s Troubled World,” Bruce W. Hauptli interprets how and why liberal education is under assault in the contemporary environment, both within and outside of the academy. He takes a classical view of liberal studies—one firm enough to encompass its perennial relevance for fostering rationality, ethics, and democratic education. Arguing against the notion that liberal arts is out of tune in the modern age, Hauptli sees those disciplines as inherently vocational in equipping students to sustain their personal and professional lives in ever-changing times. Thus, he believes that there is no better kind of learning for the individual in society.

In “Civic Engagement and Higher Learning,” Richard Guarasci offers civic preparation in the form of service learning as a significant way to modify more traditional types of liberal education. He points to a renaissance in that kind of learning throughout American higher education and uses his own campus curriculum, the Wagner College “Plan for the Practical Liberal Arts” to illustrate its power in uniting work and the public and academic disciplines with service. For Guarasci, service and learning are inseparable; the neighborhood, families, and college community become as one. ← 33 | 34 →

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