28 April, 2009

End the University as We Know It

An Op-Ed from the NY Times:

GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost
For many years, I have taught undergraduate courses in which students do not write traditional papers but develop analytic treatments in formats from hypertext and Web sites to films and video games. Graduate students should likewise be encouraged to produce “theses” in alternative formats.

Full article

Not all of the article is as provocative as the two quotes above but much of it is close. I have the impression that the opinions expressed could only come from someone in one of the more liberal of liberal arts areas. Statements like "Abolish permanent departments, even for undergraduate education, and create problem-focused programs."
Seem to display an ignorance of, say, an institution who work on cancer research. (One might question too why such a group would benefit from collaborations with theologians or architects as the author seems to imply).

Anyway, read the article and then go a read some of the few hundred odd commetns it attracted. The NYT kindly offer an Editor's Selection.