15 Books that Challenged me to Think and Rethink about Higher Education in 2012 #highered #edu

As we near the end of 2012, I am reflecting on my life and learning in the digital age.  With that in mind, here is my list of 15 books that challenged me to think about higher education in new ways, or at least to clarify my own convictions about higher education.  This list provides a wonderful blend of perspectives.  You will find plenty of contrasting viewpoints in this list.

Nussbaum, M. C. (2012). Not for profit: Why democracy needs the humanities : with a new afterword by the author. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Nussbaum builds a compelling case for the value of the humanities in the contemporary world.

Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Blended learning is quickly becoming commonplace in higher education institutions, and this text (albeit a few years old) provides a solid overview of the topic.  Is face-to-face learning better than online learning?  Why make it an either/or when a growing body of literature is pointing us to a both/and approach?

Pope, L. (2006). Colleges that change lives: 40 schools that will change the way you think about colleges. New York, N. Y: Penguin Books.

This book is eight years old now, but in a time when there are so many conversations about reinventing higher education, it points us to schools that are already doing amazing things.

Arum, R., & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

What are undergraduates learning in college? This book points to research indicating that the answer may well be “not much.”

Christensen, C. M., & Eyring, H. J. (2011). The innovative university: Changing the DNA of higher education from the inside out. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Juxtaposing the history of Ricks College (now BYU Idaho) and Harvard University, the book tells the tale of change and innovation in two distinct higher education institutions, followed by thought-provoking insights about managing change and responding to disruptive innovation in higher education.

Barr, M. J., & McClellan, G. S. (2011). Budgets and financial management in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Whether you are a faculty member or serve in higher education administration, this is a solid primer on the financial side of contemporary higher education.

Clark, B. R. (2007). Sustaining change in universities. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill International (UK) Ltd.

Burton Clark passed away in 2006, but his writings remain formative in my own thinking about higher education.  While it doesn’t take into account much about the influence of the digital revolution, this collection of case studies gives rich and relevant insight into higher education innovation around the globe.

Cole, J. R. (2009). The great American university: Its rise to preeminence, its indispensable national role, and why it must be protected. New York: Public Affairs.

This book focuses upon the impact and importance of the American research University.

Thorp, H. H., & Goldstein, B. (2010). Engines of innovation: The entrepreneurial university in the twenty-first century. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Similar to the Cole text, this is an engaging and inspiring read about the societal value of research Universities.  Living in the state where the “Wisconsin Idea” emerged, this resonated with me. Or, as noted by a former President of Harvard, Bryant Conant, “A scholar’s activities should have relevance.”

Taylor, M. C. (2010). Crisis on campus: A bold plan for reforming our colleges and universities. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

This text is an expansion of Taylor’s NYT article from 2009 where he takes on the idea of tenure and calls for a greater focus upon teaching.

Kronman, A. T. (2007). Education’s end: Why our colleges and universities have given up on the meaning of life. New Haven: Yale University Press.

This is a lamentation and a challenge.  Kronman argues for the importance of higher education institutions that invite students into a deep exploration of the big questions in life.

Smith, D., & Smith, J. K. A. (2011). Teaching and Christian practices: Reshaping faith and learning. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

For those of you interested in faith-based higher education, this text is a collection of chapters by faculty in various disciplines, reflecting on the role that faith informs how and what they teach.

Bradley, M. J., Seidman, R. H., & Painchaud, S. R. (2012). Saving higher education: The integrated, competency-based three-year bachelor’s degree program. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This gives an introduction into the innovation and experimentation taking place at Southern New Hampshire University with competency-based programs.  Among other things, it details their 3-year degree program.  This also led me to explore their experimentation with direct assessment.

Kirp, D. L. (2003). Shakespeare, Einstein, and the bottom line: The marketing of higher education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Almost a decade old, I contend that the ideas in this book are more relevant today than they were when the book was first published.

Gardner, H. (2011). Truth, beauty, and goodness reframed: Educating for the virtues in the twenty-first century. New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, like Nussbaum, makes a strong case for the value of the liberal arts.  He also begins to explore how they might look in a digital age.