A Perfect Mess: The Unlikely Ascendancy Of American Higher Education

Hardcover | April 5, 2017

byDavid F. Labaree

not yet rated|write a review
Read the news about America’s colleges and universities—rising student debt, affirmative action debates, and conflicts between faculty and administrators—and it’s clear that higher education in this country is a total mess. But as David F. Labaree reminds us in this book, it’s always been that way. And that’s exactly why it has become the most successful and sought-after source of learning in the world. Detailing American higher education’s unusual struggle for survival in a free market that never guaranteed its place in society—a fact that seemed to doom it in its early days in the nineteenth century—he tells a lively story of the entrepreneurial spirit that drove American higher education to become the best.
           
And the best it is: today America’s universities and colleges produce the most scholarship, earn the most Nobel prizes, hold the largest endowments, and attract the most esteemed students and scholars from around the world. But this was not an inevitability. Weakly funded by the state, American schools in their early years had to rely on student tuition and alumni donations in order to survive. This gave them tremendous autonomy to seek out sources of financial support and pursue unconventional opportunities to ensure their success. As Labaree shows, by striving as much as possible to meet social needs and fulfill individual ambitions, they developed a broad base of political and financial support that, grounded by large undergraduate programs, allowed for the most cutting-edge research and advanced graduate study ever conducted. As a result, American higher education eventually managed to combine a unique mix of the populist, the practical, and the elite in a single complex system.
           
The answers to today’s problems in higher education are not easy, but as this book shows, they shouldn’t be: no single person or institution can determine higher education’s future. It is something that faculty, administrators, and students—adapting to society’s needs—will determine together, just as they have always done.
 

Pricing and Purchase Info

$28.91 online
$32.50 list price (save 11%)
Pre-order online
Ships free on orders over $25

From the Publisher

Read the news about America’s colleges and universities—rising student debt, affirmative action debates, and conflicts between faculty and administrators—and it’s clear that higher education in this country is a total mess. But as David F. Labaree reminds us in this book, it’s always been that way. And that’s exactly why it has become ...

David F. Labaree is professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, The Trouble with Ed Schools and Someone Has to Fail.  

other books by David F. Labaree

The Trouble with Ed Schools
The Trouble with Ed Schools

Kobo ebook|Oct 1 2008

$34.12

The Trouble with Ed Schools
The Trouble with Ed Schools

Paperback|Sep 12 2006

$35.78

see all books by David F. Labaree
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:April 5, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022625044X

ISBN - 13:9780226250441

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of A Perfect Mess: The Unlikely Ascendancy Of American Higher Education

Reviews

Extra Content

Table of Contents

1 A System without a Plan: Elements of the American Model of Higher Education
2 Unpromising Roots: The Ragtag College System in the Nineteenth Century
3 Adding the Pinnacle and Keeping the Base: The Graduate School Crowns the System, 1880–1910
4 Mutual Subversion: The Liberal and the Professional
5 Balancing Access and Advantage
6 Private Advantage, Public Impact
7 Learning to Love the Bomb: America’s Brief Cold War Fling with the University as a Public Good
8 Upstairs, Downstairs: Relations between the Tiers of the System
9 A Perfect Mess
Acknowledgments
Notes
References
Index