Can American higher education remain the global leader without a strong faculty?

by krm | Monday, September 26, 2016 - 6:00 AM

In the half century after World War II, American higher education catapulted onto the global stage as the “new” and undisputed “gold standard” for scientific research and graduate education. This rise is a spectacular national achievement. It is, I fear, increasingly fragile, nay even “at risk”.

American dominance as a global knowledge powerhouse reflects the concatenation of a few key ingredients at a unique historical moment. Implicit in our new book, The Faculty Factor , is the proposition that the unique “threads” (strands) of the American success story in higher education are increasingly fraying --- with significant “downside” long-term risk.

Primary among those key ingredients or threads is academic freedom – the freedom to pursue the truth wherever it might lead and whatever the risk to the established economic and political. It is that freedom that served as a magnet for the world’s leading scholars and scientists to flock to U.S. universities from Nazi Germany during World War II and from communist repression in the Soviet Union and China later in the 20 th century.

To academic freedom, the American higher education experiment added two other key threads. The first was substantial funding...Read More

On Technology and Learning

by krm | Friday, September 23, 2016 - 6:00 AM

From our seventh floor campus offices, we can visually track the slower pace of summer morphing into the bustle of back-to-school. One day the campus is sleepy. The next, the perimeter of the campus fills with mini-vans and out pour freshmen, their families, and dorm supplies to last a year. In a matter of hours, the quad transitions to a buzzing hub of people, bikes, Frisbees, and a hammock or two.

In the past decade, the way students physically navigate the campus quad has changed dramatically. Whereas 10 years ago a handful of students might have walked distractedly with their noses in books, now the vast majority traverse the walkways with phones in hand, often reading/texting/posting as they go. This year the hunt for Pokémon has taken distraction to new heights. Being perpetually plugged in is not unique to postsecondary students, Common Sense media estimates that average daily media use hovers between 6 hours and 9 hours for teenagers. Given the perpetually plugged-in nature of youth, what role does technology play in the way they experience their education inside and outside of the classroom?

In 2014, John Hopkins University Press published ...Read More

The great twentieth-century transformation of urban landscapes

by krm | Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 6:00 AM

Urban landscapes are where Pokémon Go players have recently started to go to catch virtual creatures lurking in a GPS version of what I naively think of as the real world. They are visible environments that are constant background to our lives in towns and cities, usually seen yet not really noticed. Only when we visit somewhere for the first time, or a familiar old building is replaced by a glassy tower, or perhaps a Pokémon Gym is not where it was expected to be, do we begin to wonder why somewhere looks like it does. This is precisely the question I set out to answer in The Modern Urban Landscape .

Virtual reality before Pokémon. Architects at the New York Beaux Arts Ball in 1931, with William van Alen as his Chrysler Building.

I quickly discovered that “modern” means whatever has been done since the 1880s because almost everything we see in cities is newer than that. Older parts of cities, such as medieval streets in European towns or the elegant avenues and the White House built by slaves in Washington D.C., attract a...Read More

The 2016 Election and Higher Education Rulemaking: Important Implications for Regulations Governing Financial Aid and Other Federal Programs

by krm | Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 6:00 AM

As the millions of college students who receive some form of federal financial aid head to campus this fall, the upcoming presidential election seems to be at the top of everyone’s mind. And with good reason. Among the many important implications of the outcome of the election is the future of the federal role in higher education , including federal policy regarding student financial aid. Federal regulations help to shape financial aid policy in important ways, and because these regulations are issued by the U.S. Department of Education – part of the executive branch whose leaders are presidential appointees – whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump becomes president is likely to have a profound influence on the trajectory of the regulations, as these candidates’ policy positions on higher education differ in important ways . My forthcoming book, Higher Education Rulemaking: The Politics of Creating Regulatory Policy (due out from Johns Hopkins University Press this fall), discusses the findings of extensive research I’ve conducted on the Department of Education’s rulemaking (i.e. regulation-creating) process. My findings demonstrate, among other things, that the president’s ideology and policy preferences toward higher education...Read More

Revolution and Resistance

by krm | Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - 7:00 AM

The following is an excerpt from David Tucker’s latest book, Revolution and Resistance: Moral Revolution, Military Might, and the End of Empire :

Modern history began when Europeans sailed out into the great world to conquer it. That history has been coming to an end for decades now. We live in its prosperous, violent aftermath. Contemporary history is the story of retreat from empire. What will appear in the future, in a world not dominated by European or Euro-American power, we cannot know. It may be that European ideas—democracy, human rights, self-determination— will continue to dominate, at least in speech if not in deed. But they may not. The decline in Euro-American economic and military power, at least relatively, may create the space for alternative accounts to triumph, allowing the sun to set on spiritual as well as physical empire.

With such thoughts in mind, this book provides an account of the rise and decline of Euro-American Empire. It argues that events from the Spanish conquest of Mexico to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are of the same cloth, woven from...Read More