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What's the Point of College?

Seeking Purpose in an Age of Reform

Johann N. Neem

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Before we can improve college education, we need to know what it's for.

In our current age of reform, there are countless ideas about how to "fix" higher education. But before we can reconceptualize the college experience, we need to remember why we have these institutions in the first place—and what we want from them.

In What's the Point of College?, historian Johann N. Neem offers a new way to think about the major questions facing higher education today, from online education to disruptive innovation to how students really learn. As commentators, reformers, and policymakers call for dramatic…

Before we can improve college education, we need to know what it's for.

In our current age of reform, there are countless ideas about how to "fix" higher education. But before we can reconceptualize the college experience, we need to remember why we have these institutions in the first place—and what we want from them.

In What's the Point of College?, historian Johann N. Neem offers a new way to think about the major questions facing higher education today, from online education to disruptive innovation to how students really learn. As commentators, reformers, and policymakers call for dramatic change and new educational models, this collection of lucid essays asks us to pause and take stock. What is a college education supposed to be? What kinds of institutions and practices will best help us get there? And which virtues must colleges and universities cultivate to sustain their desired ends?

During this time of drift, Neem argues, we need to moor our colleges once again to their core purposes. By evaluating reformers' goals in relation to the specific goods that a college should offer to students and society, What's the Point of College? connects public policy to deeper ethical questions. Exploring how we can ensure that America's colleges remain places for intellectual inquiry and reflection, Neem does not just provide answers to the big questions surrounding higher education—he offers readers a guide for how to think about them.

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What's the Point of College?

Johann N. Neem

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Reviews

There are few topics of more importance to contemporary America than education reform. Given Neem's knowledge, insight, and talent, What's the Point of College? has the potential to be both an important scholarly work and a much-discussed book among the nation's thought leaders. Each of the essays is excellent.

An exceptionally informed contribution to the debate over the future of undergraduate education. Neem writes with calm clarity, but there is no mistaking the urgency of his call to defend an endangered and essential institution.

At at time when the collegiate ideal is under assault from all sides, Johann Neem provides precisely the defense that it needs. His book is the best short argument for our colleges that I've read in recent years. Let's hope that our leaders read it, too.

Johann Neem brings a rare combination of clarity, expertise, and compassion to this portrayal of American higher education. Cutting through the cant and condescension that marks so much punditry on the topic, Neem makes a persuasive case for an education of human connection for all students.

At a time when higher education has become 'hire' education, Johann Neem reminds us that the value of a college degree lies not in its earning power, but rather in its ability to enhance a human being's power of rational analysis, intellectual precision and independent judgement, as well as foster mental adaptability in a rapidly changing world. This timely book affirms that the mission of higher education is to prepare young men and women for the rest of their lives, not just their first job.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5
x
8
Pages
232
ISBN
9781421429885
Table of Contents

Preface. On Education versus Degrees
Introduction. On the Purpose(s) of College Education
Part I. Context
Chapter 1. On Disruptive Innovation
Chapter 2. On Two Recent Occasions
Chapter 3. On For-Profit

Preface. On Education versus Degrees
Introduction. On the Purpose(s) of College Education
Part I. Context
Chapter 1. On Disruptive Innovation
Chapter 2. On Two Recent Occasions
Chapter 3. On For-Profit Schools
Part II. Curriculum
Chapter 4. On STEM
Chapter 5. On the Humanities
Chapter 6. On Business Majors
Part III. Teaching
Chapter 7. On Time and Experience
Chapter 8. On Online Education
Chapter 9. On Critical Thinking
Part IV. Scholarship
Chapter 10. On the PhD
Chapter 11. On Research
Chapter 12. On Academic Writing
Conclusion. On the Future
Epilogue. On Talking with Students
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Johann N. Neem
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Johann N. Neem

Johann N. Neem is a professor of history at Western Washington University. He is the author of Creating a Nation of Joiners: Democracy and Civil Society in Early National Massachusetts and Democracy's Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America.