College: What Is It Good For?

This post is the text of a lecture I gave in 2013 at the annual meeting of the John Dewey Society.  It was published the following year in the Society's journal, Education and Culture.  Here's a link to the published version.            The story I tell here is not a philosophical … Continue reading College: What Is It Good For?

Alain de Boton: On Asking People What They Do

This lovely essay explores the most common question that modernity prompts strangers to ask each other:  What do you do?  The author is the philosopher Alain de Botton, who explains that this question is freighted with moral judgment.  In a meritocracy, what you do for a living is not just your job; it's who you … Continue reading Alain de Boton: On Asking People What They Do

Universities Give Away Knowledge and Sell Degrees

This post is a piece that is included in my new book, Being a Scholar: Reflections on Doctoral Study, Scholarly Writing, and Academic Life. In it I focus on an issue that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while:  How to understand the core business model that governs American universities.   The answer is in … Continue reading Universities Give Away Knowledge and Sell Degrees

Michael Ignatieff: Epistemological Panic, or Thinking for Yourself

This post is an essay by Michael Ignatieff published in the most recent issue of Liberties.  Here's a link to the original. What he's talking about is independent thinking.  Universities are supposed to be places where we teach people how to think for themselves, he says, but all too often we teach people to think like … Continue reading Michael Ignatieff: Epistemological Panic, or Thinking for Yourself

Johann Neem — Revenge of the Poorly Educated

This post is an essay by one of my favorite historians, Johann Neem.  It's a review of a new book, After the Ivory Tower Falls, written by Will Branch.  In this review, Neem examines the way that the divide between those who attended college and those who didn't has defined and defiled American politics in … Continue reading Johann Neem — Revenge of the Poorly Educated

Nathan Greenfield and Val Bur– The Influence of Institutional Prestige in Faculty Hiring

This post is a piece by Nathan Greenfield, reporting on a major study about the influence of institutional prestige on faculty hiring in the US. His article was first published in University World News.  Here's a link to the original. He focuses on a new research analysis recently published in Nature. The study, conducted by a … Continue reading Nathan Greenfield and Val Bur– The Influence of Institutional Prestige in Faculty Hiring

Nathan Greenfield — How Institutional Prestige Shapes Faculty Hiring

This post is an article by Nathan Greenfield about how institutional prestige shapes faculty hiring. It was published recently in University World News.  Here's a link to the original. He's reporting on a remarkable study by Daniel Larremore and Hunter Wapman, which involved "300,000 faculty members in 10,612 departments in 368 PhD-granting American universities."  What … Continue reading Nathan Greenfield — How Institutional Prestige Shapes Faculty Hiring

Bruce Kimball and Sarah Iler — College Leaders as Cookie Monsters

This post is an essay by Bruce Kimball and Sarah Iler that was published recently in Inside Higher Ed. Here's a link to the original.  Drawing on their forthcoming book -- Wealth, Cost, and Price in American Higher Education -- they argue that leaders of elite universities are engaged in an endless pursuit of financial resources, … Continue reading Bruce Kimball and Sarah Iler — College Leaders as Cookie Monsters

Exceptionalism in US Higher Education

This post is an op-ed I published on my birthday (May 17) in 2018 on the online international opinion site, Project Syndicate.  The original is hidden behind a paywall; here are PDFs in English, Spanish, and Arabic. It’s a brief essay on what is distinctive about the American system of higher education, drawn from my book, A Perfect Mess: The Unlikely Ascendancy … Continue reading Exceptionalism in US Higher Education

David Bell — Elite Universities Operate on the Principle of Self Interest above All Else

This post is an essay by historian David Bell, which was published recently in Chronicle Review.  Here's a link to the original. It's a clear analysis of how institutional self-interest is the driving force in the actions of elite universities.  Money is a key component, but the dominant factor is preserving the brand. Citadels of … Continue reading David Bell — Elite Universities Operate on the Principle of Self Interest above All Else