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  • American Higher Education, Leadership, and Policy: Critical Issues and the Public Good
  • Tatiana Suspitsyna
American Higher Education, Leadership, and Policy: Critical Issues and the Public Good, by Penny A. Pasque ; Foreword by Edward P. St. John & Lesley A. Rex . Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 220 pp. $85.00 (cloth). ISBN 9780230615090.

The movement for renewing higher education's social contract is gaining momentum and at its frontline is Penny Pasque's American Higher Education, Leadership, and Policy: Critical Issues and the Public Good. A study of discourses of college and university leaders at national conferences, Pasque's book is an intellectual heir of the earlier Higher Education for the Public Good: Emerging Voices from a National Movement (Kezar, Chambers, & Burkhardt, 2005). Compelled by the same agenda of service in the public interest, Pasque's work is nevertheless markedly different in its approach, for the author both calls for a greater role of colleges and universities in promoting the public good and investigates how such calls are made by institutional and community leaders. In short, in Frierian terms, Pasque's study enlightens and "conscientizes," examining discourses in order to inform their change (p. 9).

Consisting of eight chapters, the book follows the organizational logic of a large research report with an exhaustive review of literature, a thorough description of the methods of data collection and analysis, and an extensive discussion of the findings. The author's writing, however, is by no means formulaic. Pasque's literature review goes beyond the customary critique of the extant scholarship to offer a typology of current perspectives on higher education and the public good. She identifies four types of cognitive processing models that frame scholars' and practitioners' thinking on the topic—the public good, the private good, the public and private good as balanced, and advocacy—and shows evidence for each of the models in the literature. With its meticulous attention to paradigmatic issues of validity in qualitative research and its comprehensive overview of discourse methodologies, Pasque's chapter on research design is worth emulating by any novice scholar interested in discourse analysis.

The presentation of the findings in the book stretches over three chapters and combines the results of conversation and discourse analyses of the sessions observed and recorded at national conferences. From the wealth of narrative and observational data, Pasque distills the participants' interpretative frames, their cognitive processing models that shape their definitions of and solutions to social [End Page 664] problems. She demonstrates how in national discussions, status quo-oriented models are endowed with weight and legitimacy, while advocacy models that aim at social change are silenced and marginalized.

Pasque's discovery of silenced voices is certainly not new—she admits so herself—what is fresh and enlightening is her thorough analysis of the subjugation and resistance tactics that the participants employ in their conference speeches and behaviors. Representing a wide social segment ranging from university presidents and heads of charitable foundations to grassroots organizers and graduate students, the participants offer a spectrum of perspectives steeped in the racial, ethnic, gender, and professional identities of their owners. What Pasque shows so convincingly and to such a disheartening effect is that the voices of university professors and presidents matter, whereas the voices of community organizers, students, Blacks, Hispanics, and women appear not to. That is, people of color, females, and participants of low status occupations may be listened to, but are never taken seriously enough to change the course of discussion or to be recorded in conference proceedings. The silencing and disappearance of those alternative perspectives, argues Pasque, lead to the preservation of the status quo and undermine higher education's ability to create innovation and change for a more equitable society.

The culminating point of Pasque's analysis and its major product is the Tricuspid Model of Advocacy and Educational Change. The intent of the model is to build pathways to universities' greater engagement in the issues of social justice. Taken together, the three components of the model —centering the marginalized perspectives of people of color and women, including their voices, and rethinking the role of power brokers (p. 173)—offer a strategy for organizational change that involves all university constituencies and...


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