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Higher Education and the New Society

George Keller

Publication Year: 2008

While he celebrated higher education as the engine of progress in every aspect of American life, George Keller also challenged academia’s sacred cows and entrenched practices with provocative ideas designed to induce “creative discomfort.” Completed shortly before his death in 2007, Higher Education and the New Society caps the career of one of higher education’s exceptional minds. Refining and expanding ideas Keller developed over his fifty-year career, this book is a clarion call for change. In the face of a transformed American society marked by population shifts, technological upheavals, and a volatile economic landscape, Keller urges leaders in higher education to see and confront their own serious problems. With characteristic forthrightness and inimitable wit, Keller targets critical areas where bold thinking is especially important, taking on such explosive issues as the configuration of academic disciplines, the runaway problem of big-time sports, the decline of the liberal arts, and the urgent problems of finances and costs. Keller expected this book to ignite discussion and controversy within academic circles, and he hoped fervently that it would also lead to real thinking, real analysis, and urgently needed transformation.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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pp. ix-xiii

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ONE: The Ingredients of the New Society

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pp. 1-65

On October 16, 1959, a thirty-seven-year-old scholar of early American history delivered a paper that stunned the twenty-one other noted scholars who had gathered for the Conference on Early American Education at Williamsburg, Virginia. The historian was Bernard Bailyn of Harvard, and his paper was subsequently published, along with a superlative...

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TWO: Education’s Response to the New Society

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pp. 66-87

It now seems clear that American society has been undergoing major changes in the past half century and has experienced at least four huge transformations since the 1970s, which may allow us to assert that there is now a new America. Thus, the harsher critics of higher education have a point. But have the nation’s academic institutions largely failed to...

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THREE: What’s Next for America’s Colleges and Universities?

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pp. 88-109

Many, if not most, of America’s nearly four thousand colleges and universities have taken steps to react to the four formidable alterations in U.S. society since the 1970s. Contrary to some of the accusations, U.S. higher education has changed considerably in the past three decades. Institutions have improved their admissions and financial aid...

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FOUR: Remodeling the Kingpin

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pp. 110-131

Nothing is harder, as Niccoló Machiavelli and numerous other keen observers have pointed out, than initiating a new order of things. Restructuring is always extremely difficult. In the field of higher learning, it seems nearly impossible. Yet it was done in higher education a century ago, and today’s radically new conditions, societal transformations...


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pp. 133-151

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 153-180


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pp. 181-188

E-ISBN-13: 9780801895180
E-ISBN-10: 0801895189
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801890314
Print-ISBN-10: 0801890314

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 551797583
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Higher Education and the New Society

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Education, Higher -- Aims and objectives -- United States
  • Education, Higher -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Educational change -- United States.
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