American Higher Education Transformed, Smith & Bender, eds.

American Higher Education Transformed, 1940-2005: Documenting the National Discourse, Wilson Smith and Thomas Bender, eds., Johns Hopkins University, 2008

Smith and Bender’s book is a small encyclopedia of primary source documents about higher education.  A short introductory section provides an overview of key topics.  The editors chose an interesting structure of broad categories:

  • The Terrain
  • Expanding and Reshaping
  • Liberal Arts
  • Graduate Studies
  • Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity
  • Academic Profession
  • Conflicts on and Beyond Campus
  • Governments, Foundations and Corporations
  • Courts and Equal Opportunities
  • Academic Freedom
  • Rights of Students
  • Academic Administration

Within each part, subsections often structure materials further, and within that, chronology dictates order. The selection of pieces in very good, particularly from the perspective of ideas and values that resonate with faculty. Multiple perspectives are present and social science lens could be applied to academia through some of the work. That is not its primary thrust, however. Implicit in this collection is the power of ideas to transform higher education.

The vast scope of the documents highlights the dynamism inherent in higher education. We seek to understand, harness, critique and champion it. In addition to well-known articles and reports, the collection contains many unexpected gems. It is worth reading, worth referencing, and worth having nearby.

David Potash