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Higher Expectations: Can Colleges Teach Students What They Need to Know in the 21st Century?

Higher Expectations: Can Colleges Teach Students What They Need to Know in the 21st Century?

by Derek Bok
Higher Expectations: Can Colleges Teach Students What They Need to Know in the 21st Century?

Higher Expectations: Can Colleges Teach Students What They Need to Know in the 21st Century?

by Derek Bok


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How our colleges and universities can respond to the changing hopes and needs of society

In recent decades, cognitive psychologists have cast new light on human development and given colleges new possibilities for helping students acquire skills and qualities that will enhance their lives and increase their contributions to society. In this landmark book, Derek Bok explores how colleges can reap the benefits of these discoveries and create a more robust undergraduate curriculum for the twenty-first century.

Prior to this century, most psychologists thought that creativity, empathy, resilience, conscientiousness, and most personality traits were largely fixed by early childhood. What researchers have now discovered is that virtually all of these qualities continue to change through early adulthood and often well beyond. Such findings suggest that educators may be able to do much more than was previously thought possible to teach students to develop these important characteristics and thereby enable them to flourish in later life.

How prepared are educators to cultivate these qualities of mind and behavior? What do they need to learn to capitalize on the possibilities? Will college faculties embrace these opportunities and make the necessary changes in their curricula and teaching methods? What can be done to hasten the process of innovation and application? In providing answers to these questions, Bok identifies the hurdles to institutional change, proposes sensible reforms, and demonstrates how our colleges can help students lead more successful, productive, and meaningful lives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691206615
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 05/17/2022
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Derek Bok is the 300th Anniversary University Research Professor at Harvard University. He served as the twenty-fifth president of Harvard from 1971 to 1991, and as interim president from 2006 to 2007. His many books include The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges, Higher Education in America, Our Underachieving Colleges, and The Shape of the River (all Princeton).

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction. An Overview 1

Chapter 1 A Brief History of the College Curriculum from 1636 to the Present 5

Chapter 2 Educating Citizens 22

Chapter 3 Preparing Students for an Interdependent World 43

Chapter 4 Character: Can Colleges Help Students Acquire Higher Standards of Ethical Behavior and Personal Responsibility? 58

Chapter 5 Helping Students Find Purpose and Meaning in Life 80

Chapter 6 Improving Interpersonal Skills 95

Chapter 7 Improving Intrapersonal Skills 109

Chapter 8 Unconventional Methods of Teaching 123

Chapter 9 Prospects for Change 137

Chapter 10 Encouraging Reform 158

Conclusion. Reflections on the Future 179

Notes 185

Acknowledgments 203

Index 205

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Building on his clear-eyed assessment of the state of teaching in higher education, Derek Bok has turned to society's expectations for the preparation of college students for all aspects of life in the world: can teachers convey life skills beyond class content? Higher Expectations provides a wide-ranging, pragmatic, and at times critical map for the enterprise that Bok has served for seventy years."—James L. Shulman, vice president of the American Council of Learned Societies

"Higher Expectations is a remarkably fresh and candid look at what higher education can and cannot do to meet today's challenges. Derek Bok's temperate prose cannot conceal his passionate concern that our colleges and universities are falling critically short of equipping students with what they need in the twenty-first century, making his proposed curricular remedies all the more compelling. Remarkably fresh, deeply informed, and persuasively written, Higher Expectations embodies Derek Bok's work at its best."—Michael McPherson, President Emeritus, The Spencer Foundation

"As higher education grapples with epochal disruption, Derek Bok—the nation's indefatigable dean for all seasons—provides in Higher Expectations exactly what all educators will need to rebuild: a cogent and compelling articulation of higher education's core educational purposes, from venerable goals, like educating citizens and cultivating evidence-based reasoning, to such suddenly urgent priorities as resilience, design thinking, and creativity. Across these pages, Bok both outlines the emergent contours of an empowering liberal education, and models in his own prose the finest benefits of liberal learning: careful analysis, reasoned, research-informed judgment, thoughtful attention to dissenting positions, and an abiding conviction that college learning can and should help our society build a better tomorrow."—Carol Geary Schneider, President Emerita, Association of American Colleges and Universities

"In this elegant, wise, and generous book, Derek Bok directs his gaze to how colleges and universities can rethink the educational enterprise to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. Bok is as close as we get to higher education royalty."—Joshua Kim, coauthor of Learning Innovation and the Future of Higher Education

"Timely and important. Bok's analysis of modern higher education is authoritative and insightful, and his recommendations are convincing. Anyone concerned with the future of higher education should study and act upon this book."—William Damon, author of The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life

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