Part II


Part II traces “The Story of Higher Education” from medieval Europe, though that section seems to function mostly to justify the authors’ claim that nostalgia for the European university runs deep in American higher education” (35). Most of the history section focuses on the developments in the U.S. system, which they point out has grown as people identified gaps and sought to make education available to a wider range of people. After the establishment of the Ivy Leagues, for example, and with the rise of the Industrial Revolution, the U.S. government recognized the need for more practical education and worked with the states to create the first land-grant colleges. Then came the research universities, and the community colleges, and the for-profit schools. The authors emphasize here what they will hold throughout the book, that institutional diversity is an asset, as it allows individuals to find the education that works best for them. Somewhat awkwardly, the authors then move back to discussing the relationship between the ancients (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) and those they refer to as “the moderns” (Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, and others up through Arendt), before they progress to a very interesting (if out of place) discussion of the “professor as craftsman in the digital age” (71).