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Fixing College Education: A New Curriculum for the Twenty-First Century [Hardcover]

Charles Muscatine

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Book Description

Aug. 13 2009
Since his early days at the University of California, Berkeley, when he was fired for refusing to sign a loyalty oath during the Red Scare, Charles Muscatine has been a dedicated teacher and higher education reformer. Upon his reinstatement at Berkeley, he founded 'Strawberry Creek College', a six-year experiment using full professors and small classes to teach lower-division students. Drawing on this belief in undergraduate teaching, Muscatine's new book now offers a radical new design for American college education. Muscatine begins with the observation that the mediocre undergraduate curriculum offered by most colleges and universities today is based on outdated ideas of what should be taught and what constitutes good teaching. Although Muscatine is himself a well-established research scholar, he contends that the publish-or-perish 'research religion' of college and university faculties has seriously damaged undergraduate education. He offers a clear distinction between publishable research and the scholarship necessary for good teaching. Furthermore, he recommends major changes in the education of professors, including reconsidering both the requirement of the book-length dissertation and the current organization of graduate departments. "Fixing College Education" predicts new roles for students and faculty, redefines educational breadth and depth, and calls for deeper assessment of learning and teaching. Muscatine highlights the outstanding colleges and universities, including Harvard, Boston University's University Professor's Program, Evergreen State College, and Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, that have already remade their curricula successfully or adopted features like the ones he proposes. Muscatine argues that the new curriculum is better able than the old to produce good scholars and good citizens for the twenty-first century.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of Virginia Pr (Aug. 13 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081392815X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813928159
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g

Product Description


"Fixing College Education is full of cogent, frank, even refreshingly blunt criticism of undergraduate education. Muscatine's passion pervades the volume, and he does not hesitate to criticize the sacred cows of academe in search for improved education of students." - Jerry G. Gaff, Senior Scholar, Association of American Colleges and Universities, Washington, D.C. "Fixing College Education is a personal statement by a distinguished teacher and scholar who cares deeply about student learning and who tried gallantly to change a system that is seriously flawed. This is a manifesto that needs to be widely read." - R. Eugene Rice, Senior Scholar, Association of American Colleges and Universities, Washington, D.C."

About the Author

Charles Muscatine is Professor of English Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, where he taught for forty-three years.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all with a stake in higher education Oct. 26 2009
By Norman Rabkin - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Despite the fact that Charles Muscatine is one of the foremost medievalists in the country, he has written a passionate argument that narrow specialization, for both faculty and students, has virtually ruined American college education. Citing his own experience at trying to establish a college at UC Berkeley, one that would use a seminar format and a generalist approach to learning and thinking, and examining successful programs elsewhere in the U.S., he proposes a plan that is no less than thrilling to return college education to its original goal: the production of good citizens who are prepared to pursue any post-graduate interests that they desire. The book offers detailed analysis of both what is wrong and what is being successfully accomplished at a few institutions. Anyone interested in what to look for in a college must read this revolutionary and sensible book.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Study May 21 2013
By Robert Grudin - Published on
Charles Muscatine was one of the most perceptive, original and eloquent scholars of his time. His long career, which included service in World War II, resistance to the McCarthyite purge, major scholarly publication, foundational service, and superb teaching, prepared him thoroughly for this final book, which draws not only on his decades in the academy but also on his insights into human nature and American culture. Fixing College Education is a revealing exposé of the failures of current teaching methods and a forceful argument for change. It is also a rare combination of philosophy and citizenship.

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