The Proper Role of Higher Education in a Democratic Society
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The Proper Role of Higher Education in a Democratic Society

Vincent Bowhay (Independence Community College, USA)
Pages: 300|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7744-8
ISBN13: 9781799877448|ISBN10: 1799877442|EISBN13: 9781799877462|ISBN13 Softcover: 9781799877455
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Description

Since its founding in 1636, American higher education has served to prepare students to be active participants in our democratic society. During a time of great civil upheaval following the tumultuous elections of 2016 and 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and mass demonstrations following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, higher education may be the only institution left to be both responsible for and responsive to society at large. Public trust in the federal government is at near-record lows, but confidence in higher education has decreased more so than for any other U.S. institution since 2015. Practitioners of higher education must respond to this lack of trust and the pressures of preparing a 21st century workforce while battling the threats of a pandemic, declining enrollment, budget destabilization, and increased regulation.

The Proper Role of Higher Education in a Democratic Society reexamines the purpose of higher education during rapidly changing times. The contributors to this book make the case that if higher education is called to prepare students to serve a government by the people, the people must be prepared to govern effectively. This argument is central to this text, which offers practical advice and best practices to reclaim higher education’s most fundamental mission: preparing graduates for active participation in our democratic society.

Trust in American institutions is at an all-time low. Regardless of how the 2020 elections turn out, public trust their vote matters, that their voice is heard, and that their views are understood is so degraded that this generation may be lost civically. At a time when we need to trust institutions to respond to life threatening crises like a pandemic and high unemployment, higher education is viewed the lowest of all public institutions. With lawmakers older and whiter than the public, it is not surprising that people do not see themselves in our government. With higher education a microcosm of what the American government looks like, it is not surprising that tax payers question whether or not a college degree is worth the debt and tax payer dollars. This book is dedicated to providing resources and suggestions for restoring the public faith in higher education by connecting the educational experience with civic engagement outcomes. In a time where public opinion is quickly changing for the better or the worse, higher education must respond to this decline in trust in it as an institution, but also the decline in the belief that a college degree is worth the time and cost. Higher education was founded on the idea that colleges would prepare citizens for a life of public service, but we've quickly changed to a business model that largely puts profits over people. Diverse perspectives presented in this book will challenge traditional notions that civic engagement is handled by one office on a college campus and is only discussed during a Presidential election.

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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