The Issue at a Glance

Fragmenting the Curriculum (10.1007/s12129-019-09803-7)

Daniel Bonevac, University of Texas-Austin.

For the first entry in our “Incapacity: Enfeebling Higher Education” feature, Daniel Bonevac documents the disappearance of Western Civilization and other broad interdisciplinary humanities courses, along with the dwindling of traditional survey courses. The result is that college graduates emerge with little knowledge of subjects beyond their majors, and only narrow slices of that to boot.

Good Grieve! America’s Grade Inflation Culture (10.1007/s12129-019-09810-8)

Craig Evan Klafter, American University in Myanmar

The American culture of grade inflation is a primary abettor of the “pay to play” college admissions scandals recently in the news. If a student can manage to gain admission to a school that is academically out of reach, there’s a good chance he will pass his courses. The political history and institutional causes of college grade inflation might surprise you.

Why We Need to Read (10.1007/s12129-019-09814-4)

Karen Swallow Prior, Liberty University

Reading, according to Karen Prior, forms one’s character, cultivates virtues such as patience, attentiveness, diligence, and humility, and leads to greater academic and professional success. Why, then, are American colleges and universities requiring less of it?

The Incompatibility of Sports and Higher Education (10.1007/s12129-019-09805-5)

Josh Edwards, 24/7 Sports

It is possible that athletic competition could provide a sound accompaniment to a rigorous liberal arts education. As it’s practiced on today’s college campuses, though, institutional status-striving through the provision of mass entertainment sports has resulted in disastrous academic compromise. Recent scandals involving college athletics programs, Josh Edwards explains, provide an opportunity for real reform.

Western Civilization, Inequality, and the Diversity Shell Game (10.1007/s12129-019-09811-7)

J. Scott Kenney, Memorial University of Newfoundland

The campus left’s rejection of the Western canon and its focus on racial, gender, and sexual inequality is couched in the language of Enlightenment: "tolerance," "fairness," “pluralism,” and "justice." But the abandonment of the canon has left campus “wokeness” bereft of any substantial consideration of the West’s most important self-critique: economic inequality.

Liberal Education and Its Postmodern Critics (10.1007/s12129-019-09808-2)

Stephen R. C. Hicks, Rockford University

In the final entry of our “Incapacity” feature, Stephen Hicks argues that supporters of liberal education must wrest control of our schools back from postmodernists who, in their rejection of reason and objectivity, harken back to premodern, authoritarian forms of education.

The Children of Political Correctness (10.1007/s12129-019-09816-2)

Howard S. Schwartz, Oakland University

What has caused the fear, intolerance, and aggression of the many college students who demand strict enforcement of speech codes? Howard Schwartz argues that they are the children of a culture that has “overthrown the socialization that has protected previous generations from the anxiety that is an inevitable part of life.” In psychoanalytic terms, the father (the white patriarchy) has created a corrupt, racist, and sexist world, and is not worthy of the mother’s—and, therefore, the children’s—love.

Academic Malaise: Bring Back the Groves of Academe (10.1007/s12129-019-09804-6)

Mohamed Gad-el-Hak, Virginia Commonwealth University

The rise of the administrative university, the demise of faculty governance, rising tuition, online courses, and reliance on part-time faculty is enough to make one pine for a return to a “republic of scholars.”

Culpable Negligence atScienceMagazine (10.1007/s12129-019-09809-1)

Theodore Held, American Association for the Advancement of Science (member)

The publication of a fraudulent study of the effect of microplastics on fish illustrates how preferred political narratives can warp basic scientific protocol at even the most prestigious scientific journals.

Political Disparities in the Academy: It’s More than Self-Selection (10.1007/s12129-019-09815-3)

John Paul Wright, Ryan T. Motz, Timothy S. Nixon, University of Cincinnati

The political imbalance on most college faculties is often attributed to “self-selection,” the aggregation of left-leaning cognitive high-performers voluntarily choosing to pursue academic careers. But a large survey performed years ago shows large numbers of academics shifted to the left after joining the professoriate, partially in response to career incentives.

A Dangerous Belief (Review Essay) (10.1007/s12129-019-09818-0)

James V. Shuls, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Response by Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas (emerita)

A review of two recent books on school reform by James V. Shuls provokes a heated exchange between two prominent scholars over a proposal to significantly widen the federal role in K-12 education.

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