This Chronicle of Higher Education story is both welcome and disturbing. It is welcome because it credits students being intelligent enough to evaluate constructively what and how they are learning in classes. So far so good. But the rather breathless tone of this essay ignores the fact that the Tayloristic premises of higher education institutions as organizations has primarily created students as passive consumers of “education” rather than active partners in a process. This reveals the native Fordist model that dominates and its associated “banking model”.
Davydd Greenwood kindly shared his syllabus for an Anthropology of the University course. I believe he taught this course for about ten years at Cornell University, so it presumably went through many iterations. Here’s the description:
We examine the contemporary university as a social and cultural system. The seminar involves an examination of the convergences and divergences between the trajectories of the sciences and engineering, the humanities, and the social sciences in contemporary universities and some international comparisons with the trajectories of universities around the world. The overall aim is to link an ethnographic analysis of the microstructures of departmental differentiation, professional hegemonies, and local financing with the larger-scale processes of transformation of universities’ place in society under the pressures of corporatization, globalization, and competition from a host of alternative higher education institutions.
Here’s the list of books they read:
- Arum, Richard and Josipa Roska, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.
- Ginsberg, Benjamin, The Fall of the Faculty. Chicago: Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Kirn, Walter, Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever. New York: Anchor, 2010.
- Ruch, Richard, Higher Ed, Inc.: The Rise of the For-profit University. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.
- Jean Schensul and Margaret LeCompte, Essential Ethnographic Methods: A Mixed Method Approach, 2nd edition. Lanham, MD: Altamira, 2013.
- Tuchman, Gayle, Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.