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Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise

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Almost every day American higher education is making news with a list of problems that includes the incoherent nature of the curriculum, the resistance of the faculty to change, and the influential role of the federal government both through major investments in student aid and intrusive policies. Checklist for Change not only diagnoses these problems, but also provides co Almost every day American higher education is making news with a list of problems that includes the incoherent nature of the curriculum, the resistance of the faculty to change, and the influential role of the federal government both through major investments in student aid and intrusive policies. Checklist for Change not only diagnoses these problems, but also provides constructive recommendations for practical change. Robert Zemsky details the complications that have impeded every credible reform intended to change American higher education. He demythologizes such initiatives as the Morrill Act, the GI Bill, and the Higher Education Act of 1972, shedding new light on their origins and the ways they have shaped higher education in unanticipated and not commonly understood ways. Next, he addresses overly simplistic arguments about the causes of the problems we face and builds a convincing argument that well-intentioned actions have combined to create the current mess for which everyone is to blame. Using provocative case studies, Zemsky describes the reforms being implemented at a few institutions with the hope that these might serve as harbingers of the kinds of change needed: the University of Minnesota at Rochester’s compact curriculum in the health sciences only, Whittier College’s emphasis on learning outcomes, and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s coherent overall curriculum. In conclusion, Zemsky describes the principal changes that must occur not singly but in combination. These include a fundamental recasting of federal financial aid; new mechanisms for better channeling the competition among colleges and universities; recasting the undergraduate curriculum; and a stronger, more collective faculty voice in governance that defines not why, but how the enterprise must change.


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Almost every day American higher education is making news with a list of problems that includes the incoherent nature of the curriculum, the resistance of the faculty to change, and the influential role of the federal government both through major investments in student aid and intrusive policies. Checklist for Change not only diagnoses these problems, but also provides co Almost every day American higher education is making news with a list of problems that includes the incoherent nature of the curriculum, the resistance of the faculty to change, and the influential role of the federal government both through major investments in student aid and intrusive policies. Checklist for Change not only diagnoses these problems, but also provides constructive recommendations for practical change. Robert Zemsky details the complications that have impeded every credible reform intended to change American higher education. He demythologizes such initiatives as the Morrill Act, the GI Bill, and the Higher Education Act of 1972, shedding new light on their origins and the ways they have shaped higher education in unanticipated and not commonly understood ways. Next, he addresses overly simplistic arguments about the causes of the problems we face and builds a convincing argument that well-intentioned actions have combined to create the current mess for which everyone is to blame. Using provocative case studies, Zemsky describes the reforms being implemented at a few institutions with the hope that these might serve as harbingers of the kinds of change needed: the University of Minnesota at Rochester’s compact curriculum in the health sciences only, Whittier College’s emphasis on learning outcomes, and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s coherent overall curriculum. In conclusion, Zemsky describes the principal changes that must occur not singly but in combination. These include a fundamental recasting of federal financial aid; new mechanisms for better channeling the competition among colleges and universities; recasting the undergraduate curriculum; and a stronger, more collective faculty voice in governance that defines not why, but how the enterprise must change.

38 review for Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise

  1. 5 out of 5

    (a)lyss(a)

    "In training or polytechnic-like track, curricula would become increasingly standardized as well as vocational" This is an interesting look at the world of higher education and how students, staff, and faculty are operating within colleges as a business. The author suggests changes that put the power back in the hands of staff and faculty that would help with experience and overhead for universities. It highlights the moving pieces that need to come together for change and one way of moving forw "In training or polytechnic-like track, curricula would become increasingly standardized as well as vocational" This is an interesting look at the world of higher education and how students, staff, and faculty are operating within colleges as a business. The author suggests changes that put the power back in the hands of staff and faculty that would help with experience and overhead for universities. It highlights the moving pieces that need to come together for change and one way of moving forward with them.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This is a book that the board of trustees at the University of Delaware is reading at the behest of the University President. The author is a professor at University of Pennsylvania, and an expert on the woes of modern university education. The big problems are two: 1. university education costs too much 2. it takes too long, and is ineffective. Point 2 is driven by that education is too complicated. Nobody knows what they want to major in, knows the general education and major requirements, facult This is a book that the board of trustees at the University of Delaware is reading at the behest of the University President. The author is a professor at University of Pennsylvania, and an expert on the woes of modern university education. The big problems are two: 1. university education costs too much 2. it takes too long, and is ineffective. Point 2 is driven by that education is too complicated. Nobody knows what they want to major in, knows the general education and major requirements, faculty only want to teach the boutique courses, ..... Point 1 is driven by clumsy support of education by the federal government, and it takes 6 years for people to graduate. He has a list of 20 random items that must be corrected to correct points 1 and 2 above, and it takes about 4 chapters for him to state what needs changing. He is probably correct about what needs changing, but this book was very badly written. I think he assumes that everybody has read his previous 20 books about what is wrong with higher education. Since this is the first book I have read about the role of higher education, I learned a lot. But there must be better books out there.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ben Moll

    Vintage Zemsky. The first half is 6/5 stars - just fantastic. Higher Ed policy background - described, explained, analyzed and used for future consideration/shaping.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carole

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Elliott

  7. 4 out of 5

    James Krotz

  8. 4 out of 5

    Renee Hobbs

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex Huckabee

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carol Lerch

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paula Quenoy

  13. 4 out of 5

    Janet

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

  15. 5 out of 5

    Teesa

  16. 5 out of 5

    Diana

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    Becky

  18. 5 out of 5

    Duane Bonifer

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    Jennifer Sun

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    Victoria Lazur

  21. 5 out of 5

    Char

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jalisa

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eugen Niedaszkowski

  24. 4 out of 5

    Balal Rasool

  25. 4 out of 5

    Monica

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

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    Karenann Carty

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

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    Ashley

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jo * Smut-Dickted *

  31. 4 out of 5

    Shane D

  32. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

  33. 4 out of 5

    Bailey L.

  34. 5 out of 5

    Dimarcoa

  35. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  36. 4 out of 5

    Dayna

  37. 4 out of 5

    Anton Rasmussen

  38. 5 out of 5

    Terry Brown

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