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Fixing College Education

A New Curriculum for the Twenty-first Century

Charles Muscatine

Publication Year: 2009

Synthesizing what can be learned from an array of positive and negative experience, scholar and educational reformer Charles Muscatine, founder of Strawberry College and author of the Muscatine Report after the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, presents a brief for refashioning college education in the 21st century. He suggests how to reverse the baneful effects of a disproportionate emphasis on research over teaching, particularly where it is most needed: in large research universities.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

For most of my long career as a college professor, I have worn two hats. One is that of teacher and scholar, specializing in medieval English and French literature, in the writing of prose nonfiction, and doing a good deal of instruction in freshman reading and composition too. I have lectured on medieval literature to juniors and seniors, ...

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Chapter 1: What’s Wrong with College

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pp. 1-10

American colleges enjoy a remarkable reputation. In the public mind, compared with such institutions as Congress or corporate America, higher education is near the top. A 2003 poll by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that private colleges were second only to the U.S. military in the trust of the people, and two-year public colleges were only slightly lower, ...

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Chapter 2: An Environment for Learning

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pp. 11-35

Putting students into the center of the curriculum and enabling them as soon as possible to take responsibility for what happens in class means putting to the side a whole host of sentimental and well-loved conceptions of teaching. A curriculum centered on student learning rather than on imparting information changes the environment, ...

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Chapter 3: Faculty Responsibility to Students

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pp. 36-42

Nothing of value or consequence will happen in a democratically oriented educational system without the collaboration of the faculties. Manifestly, getting them to approve new curricular structures will be especially difficult. Of course there have been lots of faculty reports, but for the most part they have produced only minor tinkering with the undergraduate curriculum. ...

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Chapter 4: A Curriculum Design for the Future

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pp. 43-62

There is now remarkable agreement among educational thinkers about what best promotes student learning. Above all, students learn when they are engaged in the process. They respond well to high expectations, prompt feedback, and challenging problems related to their backgrounds, history, and goals. Students flourish in communities, with the support and collaboration of their peers. ...

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Chapter 5: Toward a New Curriculum: Colleges with Innovative Features

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pp. 63-74

Despite the formidable obstacles, the new curriculum is slowly making its way into American colleges. The logic of new thinking has become too powerful to be ignored wherever student learning is a primary concern. Confidently, if perhaps optimistically, the Association of American Colleges and Universities has announced the emergence of the “new academy.” ...

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Chapter 6: The New Curriculum: Some Innovative Colleges

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pp. 75-96

Independent whole colleges having a new curriculum have appeared on a few large university campuses where the presence of a research faculty has not prevented granting to new collegiate structures enough autonomy to set up and prove themselves. Administered as an independent school, the University Professors Program (UNI) of Boston University ...

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Chapter 7: Research, Scholarship, Teaching, and the Education of Professors

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pp. 97-119

Reform of American college education will come about in line with some of the ideas and models presented in the previous chapters. Though the ideas have been out there for decades, and the existence of a few truly innovative colleges most hopeful, on a national scale our progress has been very slow. We will not by any means get substantial educational reform until we confront the faculties themselves. ...

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Chapter 8: Final Problems

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pp. 120-136

Paying primary attention to the curriculum should not allow us to pass over the fact that there are lots of other things about the American college that need improvement. One of our most urgent problems is that of access and retention, of finding and keeping places in college for students from poor families and for those who are potentially capable but are underprepared or lack motivation. ...

Appendix: Evergreen State College Sample Course Descriptions

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pp. 137-142

Source Notes

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pp. 143-160


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pp. 161-165

E-ISBN-13: 9780813928326
E-ISBN-10: 081392832X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813928159
Print-ISBN-10: 081392815X

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2009