Periodically we come across reports and books that offer a unique perspective on issues that affect higher education today. We would like to share these publications with you as we discover them, as well as invite you to contribute to this offering.
You can find additional recommended resources within the specific issue areas.
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Post Secondary Education: The Challenges Ahead
by Dr. Barbara Ischinger, OECD Director for Education
Dr. Ischinger spoke on the challenges for higher education in the transition to a knowledge economy at the Higher Education in Federations Conference in Ottawa, Canada in January 2007.
"Our comparative indicators track a rapidly rising demand for high-level skills. In virtually all industrialised countries, the relative prospects of those individuals who are well educated have risen, whereas we are seeing declining living standards for those individuals, and nations, that struggle with the transition to the knowledge economy. The reality is that the gap between what our education systems deliver, and what is required, continues to widen."
"Higher education systems in OECD countries will have to make considerable headway if they are to meet the demands of modern societies. Put simply, education systems need to develop more challenging and more supportive learning environments and learn to be more flexible and effective in improving learning outcomes."
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The March 2nd, 2002 issue of The Economist presented a review of two books that address the purpose of scientific research. "What scientists think they are up to affects the way they plead for public money, and how far government and the public understand the aims of science affects how well scientists succeed." The following excerpts are provided to introduce you to these works.
Science, Money and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion
By Daniel S. Greenberg. University of Chicago Press, August 2001; 528 pages.
"Science, Money and Politics, " by Daniel Greenberg, is "a masterly overview of how big science and big government have operated together in post-war America. . . . Over the years, Mr. Greenberg has been an often lonely voice championing the public's right to know how wisely scientists were spending its hard-earned money. . . . Through the medium of his newsletter, Science and Government Report, Mr. Greenberg pretty well invented a new way to cover big science - as a form of government spending no different, in budgetary terms, from defense procurement or agricultural support. . . . Mr. Greenberg showed time and time again that in pursuit of money, scientists were as grasping as any spending department. . . . He was in the thick of two of the bitterest reversals for science's more-is-better creed and looks back on both . . . ," the NSF's report on the shortage of science and engineering graduates in 1986 and the downfall of the Superconducting Super Collider in 1993.
Science, Truth and Democracy
By Philip Kitcher. Oxford University Press; 240 pages.
Philip Kitcher, in his book, "Science, Truth and Democracy," "thinks we need to avoid both democratic faddishness and short-termism on the one hand and an elitist pursuit of truth without regard to practical consequences or human needs on the other. He criticizes scientific eminences, however fine their intentions, for failing to take seriously enough a fundamental question: what is the collective good that we want scientific inquiry to promote? . . . . In his own scheme of things, a well-ordered science has the disinterested pursuit of truth at its center, but set within a more democratic framework. . . . Mr. Kitcher holds that the democratic way of doing things is better than any alternative."
From "Holding to Account," in The Economist, March 2, 2002.
By Donald E. Stokes. Brookings Institution Press, 1997.
"Is there a fundamental difference between basic and applied scientific research? . . . . Stokes begins with an analysis of the goals of 'understanding' and 'use' in scientific research. He cites the model of Louis Pasteur, who a century ago established the foundations of the science of microbiology ('understanding') by constantly pushing the limits of its applications ('use'). . . . Stokes also challenges [Vannevar] Bush's 'linear model' - the view that science is the dynamo that leads to technological innovation, showing how it is belied by much American experience . . . . discovery after discovery in 'pure' science has been inspired by efforts to meet societal needs. . . . Through many examples, Stokes develops this revised, interactive view of science and technology and argues convincingly that we must frame a new compact between science and government."