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A Larger Sense of Purpose

Higher Education and Society

Harold T. Shapiro

Universities were once largely insular institutions whose purview extended no further than the campus gates. Not anymore. Today's universities have evolved into multifaceted organizations with complex connections to government, business, and the community. This thought-provoking book by Harold Shapiro, former president of both Princeton University and the University of Michigan, and Chairman of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission under President Bill Clinton, explores the role the modern university should play as an ethical force and societal steward.

Based on the 2003 Clark Kerr lectures, A Larger Sense of Purpose draws from Shapiro's twenty-five years of experience leading major research universities and takes up key topics of debate in higher education. What are the nature and objectives of a liberal education? How should universities address the increasing commercialization not only of intercollegiate sports but of education and research? What are the university's responsibilities for the moral education of students?

The book begins with an expanded history of the modern research institution followed by essays on ethics, the academic curriculum, the differences between private and public higher education, the future of intellectual property rights, and the changing relationship between the nation's universities and the for-profit sector. Shapiro calls for universities to be more accountable morally as well as academically. He urges scientists not only to educate others about the potential and limitations of science but also to acknowledge the public's distress over the challenges presented by the very success of the scientific enterprise. He advocates for a more intimate connection between professional training and the liberal arts--in the hope that future doctors, lawyers, and business executives will be educated in ethics and the social sciences as well as they are in anatomy, torts, and leveraged buyouts.

Candid, timely, and provocative, A Larger Sense of Purpose demands the attention of not only those in academics but of anyone who shares an interest in the soul of education.

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Late to Class

Social Class and Schooling in the New Economy

Late to Class presents theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical perspectives on social class and schooling in the United States. Grounding their analyses at the intersections of class, ethnicity, gender, geography, and schooling, the contributors examine the educational experiences of poor, working class, and middle class students against the backdrop of complicated class stratification in a shifting global economy. Together, they explore the salience of class in understanding the social, economic, and cultural landscapes within which young people in the United States come to understand the meaning of their formal education in times of changing opportunity.

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Learning from the Other

Levinas, Psychoanalysis, and Ethical Possibilities in Education

Learning from the Other presents a philosophical investigation into the ethical possibilities of education, especially social justice education. In this original treatment, Sharon Todd rethinks the ethical basis of responsibility as emerging out of the everyday and complex ways we engage difference within educational settings. She works through the implications of the productive tension between the thought of Emmanuel Levinas and that of Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Judith Butler, Cornelius Castoriadis, and others. Challenging the idea that knowledge about the other is the answer to questions of responsibility, she proposes that responsibility is rooted instead in a learning from the other. The author focuses on empathy, love, guilt, and listening to highlight the complex nature of learning from difference and to probe where the conditions for ethical possibility might lie.

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Learning in the Plural

Essays on the Humanities and Public Life

David D. Cooper

Can civic engagement rescue the humanities from a prolonged identity crisis? How can the practices and methods, the conventions and innovations of humanities teaching and scholarship yield knowledge that contributes to the public good? These are just two of the vexing questions David D. Cooper tackles in his essays on the humanities, literacy, and public life. As insightful as they are provocative, these essays address important issues head-on and raise questions about the relevance and roles of humanities teaching and scholarship, the moral footings and public purposes of the humanities, engaged teaching practices, institutional and disciplinary reform, academic professionalism, and public scholarship in a democracy. Destined to stir discussion about the purposes of the humanities and the problems we face during an era of declining institutional support, public alienation and misunderstanding, student ambivalence, and diminishing resources, the questions Cooper raises in this book are uncomfortable and, in his view, necessary for reflection, renewal, and reform. With frank, deft assessments, Cooper reports on active learning initiatives that reenergized his own teaching life while reshaping the teaching mission of the humanities, including service learning, collaborative learning, the learning community movement, and student-centered and deliberative pedagogy.

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Learning to Unlearn

Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas

Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas is a complex, multisided rethinking of the epistemic matrix of Western modernity and coloniality from the position of border epistemology. Colonial and imperial differences are the two key concepts to understanding how the logic of coloniality creates ontological and epistemic exteriorities. Being at once an enactment of decolonial thinking and an attempt to define its main grounds, mechanisms, and concepts, the book shifts the politics of knowledge from “studying the other” (culture, society, economy, politics) toward “the thinking other” (the authors). Addressing areas as diverse as the philosophy of higher education, gender, citizenship, human rights, and indigenous agency, and providing fascinating and little-known examples of decolonial thinking, education, and art, Madina V. Tlostanova and Walter D. Mignolo deconstruct the modern architecture of knowledge—its production and distribution as manifested in the corporate university. In addition, the authors dwell on and define the echoing global decolonial sensibilities as expressed in the Americas and in peripheral Eurasia. The book is an important addition to the emerging transoceanic inquiries that introduce decolonial thought and non-Western border epistemologies not only to update or transform disciplines but also to act and think decolonially in the global futures to come.

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Les écoles juives, musulmanes et Steiner

Pluralité des voies éducatives

Avec la popularité croissante des écoles privées religieuses auprès des groupes minoritaires, des débats s’intensifient. Au Québec, les récentes controverses autour du financement à 100 % d’écoles juives, ou encore de la modification du calendrier scolaire pour accommoder certaines écoles hassidiques, témoignent en effet de cette tension profonde qui englobe les grandes questions du pluralisme en contexte démocratique et de la place de la religion dans la société. Mais que se passe-t-il réellement derrière les murs des écoles privées à projet religieux ou spirituel ? Quelles valeurs y sont véhiculées ? L’auteure dépasse les idées préconçues et braque les projecteurs sur trois écoles religieuses de Montréal : une école juive, une école musulmane et une école Steiner. Bien que celles-ci s’opposent a priori aux valeurs et aux normes dominantes de la société environnante, en assurant la transmission d’une foi religieuse et la consolidation d’une identité communautaire distincte, elles attestent d’autres dimensions de la modernité, dont une citoyenneté « pluraliste », une universalisation de leur conception du religieux et la poursuite de l’excellence sur le plan scolaire. Plutôt que de contribuer à la fragmentation sociale et à l’endoctrinement religieux tant redoutés de l’opinion publique, les écoles privées religieuses semblent plutôt participer à une réinvention de la religion sur de nouvelles bases, en tenant compte du contexte social.

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Let Them Eat Data

How Computers Affect Education, Cultural Diversity, and the Prospects of Ecological Sustainability

C. A. Bowers

Do computers foster cultural diversity? Ecological sustainability? In our age of high-tech euphoria we seem content to leave tough questions like these to the experts. That dangerous inclination is at the heart of this important examination of the commercial and educational trends that have left us so uncritically optimistic about global computing.

Contrary to the attitudes that have been marketed and taught to us, says C. A. Bowers, the fact is that computers operate on a set of Western cultural assumptions and a market economy that drives consumption. Our indoctrination includes the view of global computing innovations as inevitable and on a par with social progress--a perspective dismayingly suggestive of the mindset that engendered the vast cultural and ecological disruptions of the industrial revolution and world colonialism.

In Let Them Eat Data Bowers discusses important issues that have fallen into the gap between our perceptions and the realities of global computing, including the misuse of the theory of evolution to justify and legitimate the global spread of computers, and the ecological and cultural implications of unmooring knowledge from its local contexts as it is digitized, commodified, and packaged for global consumption. He also suggests ways that educators can help us think more critically about technology.

Let Them Eat Data is essential reading if we are to begin democratizing technological decisions, conserving true cultural diversity and intergenerational forms of knowledge, and living within the limits and possibilities of the earth's natural systems.

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Level Playing Field, A

School Finance in the Northeast

In this timely work, Jane Fowler Morse reviews the history of school finance litigation in the United States and then examines recent legal and political struggles to obtain equitable school funding in New York, Vermont, and Ontario. These three places have employed strikingly different strategies to address this issue, and Morse analyzes lessons learned at each that will benefit both public officials and citizens interested in seeking reform elsewhere. Drawing on writers from Aristotle to Cass Sunstein and Martin Luther King Jr., she also explores the concepts of social justice and equity, highlighting the connections between racism, poverty, and school funding. The result is a passionate plea for equitable funding of public education nationwide to instantiate the ideal of “liberty and justice for all.”

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Levinas and the Crisis of Humanism

Claire Elise Katz

Reexamining Emmanuel Levinas's essays on Jewish education, Claire Elise Katz provides new insights into the importance of education and its potential to transform a democratic society, for Levinas's larger philosophical project. Katz examines Levinas's "Crisis of Humanism," which motivated his effort to describe a new ethical subject. Taking into account his multiple influences on social science and the humanities, and his various identities as a Jewish thinker, philosopher, and educator, Katz delves deeply into Levinas's works to understand the grounding of this ethical subject.

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Literacy of the Other

Renarrating Humanity

Explores the existential significance of literacy.

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