Common good reads

As we end this month, with our blogs on a big, amorphous topic like the “common good,” I thought it might be helpful to do some further reading on the topic. I’ve found five books that focus specifically on higher education and the common good that I want to read, so I thought I’d share them with you, along with a brief description of each.

public good privatizationPrivatization and the Public Good: Public Universities in the Balance (2014)by Matthew Lambert

In his book, Lambert examines a range of developments related to the “privatization” of public higher education in the United States, including increasing institutional autonomy, higher tuition, diminishing appropriations, alternative revenue sources such as philanthropy and new business ventures, and modified governance relationships. These developments, in turn, have resulted in an uncertain future for public academic institutions across the country, posing unprecedented questions and challenges for them. Through a wide-ranging analysis of the current situation and detailed case studies that focus on prominent public universities, Lambert provides a panoramic account of the challenges faced by public institutions.

public good, filippakouHigher Education as a Public Good: Critical Perspectives on Theory, Policy and Practice (2014), edited by Ourania Filippakou and Gareth Williams

Higher education is likely to involve the majority of people at some time in their lives in the twenty-first century. The main drivers of expansion in the previous century were a belief that widening access promotes social equity and the advance of knowledge as the main factor underpinning economic success for individuals and societies. However, universal higher education in rapidly changing economies raises many questions. This volume focuses on the question of whether it is appropriate and inevitable that higher education systems are becoming so large and so diverse that the only realistic way they can be analyzed is as aggregates of market-like transactions. Most of the authors are not satisfied with this conclusion, but they recognize, from several disciplinary perspectives, that it is no longer possible to take it for granted that higher education is intrinsically a public good.

imagining the university public goodHigher Education and the Public Good: Imagining the University (2011) by Jon Nixon

In his book, Jon Nixon argues the necessity of higher education as a public good, defining the institutional spaces necessary for sustaining these public goods and ensuring that they flourish. He addresses the effects of three decades of commercialisation, commodification, competition and classification in higher education. Lastly, Nixon articulates a vision of higher education as a public good — a site for the development of human capability, reason and purpose.

for the common goodFor the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom (2011) by Matthew Finkin and Robert Post

This book offers a concise explanation of the history and meaning of American academic freedom and it attempts to intervene into contemporary debates by clarifying the fundamental functions and purposes of academic freedom in America. Matthew Finkin and Robert Post trace how the American conception of academic freedom was first systematically articulated in 1915 by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The authors discuss the four primary dimensions of academic freedom: research and publication, teaching, intramural speech, and extramural speech. They carefully distinguish academic freedom from the kind of individual free speech right that is created by the First Amendment. The authors strongly argue that academic freedom protects the capacity of a faculty to pursue the scholar’s profession according to the standards of that profession.

common good kezarHigher Education for the Public Good: Emerging Voices from a National Movement (2005), Edited by Kezar, Chambers, and Burkhardt

This book explores the various ways that higher education contributes to the realization of significant public ends and examines how leaders can promote and enhance their contribution to the social charter through new policies and best practices. It also shows how other sectors of society, government agencies, foundations, and individuals can partner with institutions of higher education to promote the public good. Higher Education for the Public Good includes contributions from leaders in the field many of whom participated in dialogues hosted by the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good. These leaders are responsible for creating successful strategies, programs, and efforts that foster the public’s role in higher education.

What have you read on the common good that you would recommend? And what is currently on your list of books to read?

Anita Rios

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