The Big Reveal: my reading list for Open Book IIX

For the eighth year, my colleagues and I will present the Open Book: Recent Literature in Student Affairs panel at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) in June. So, in hopes of getting some CACUSS members to read along and contribute to the discussion, I’m sharing my reading list here.

Pickings are slim for new work related to traditional topics like student development or leadership. But the virtual bookshelves in the higher education section are full of juicy condemnations of the state of (mostly US) colleges and universities. Provocative titles like No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-off, or The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It are certainly tempting. Nothing like a good rant. And Academically Adrift by professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa was the talk of the town at the recent NASPA conference in Philadelphia. But for this year’s Open Book session, I’ve decided rather than succumb to the wave, I’ll stick to some themes I’ve been exploring for a few years and some tried and true authors.

So I’ve placed my order and eagerly await the arrival of:

Save the World on Your Own Time by Stanley Fish

This one is actually a few years old but I’ve long wanted to read it. Fish has been described as an “erudite crank” whose frank writing challenges us to rethink the role of the university. Save the World on Your Own Time garnered lots of attention when it was published in 2008 as it argued:

“there is but one proper role for the academe in society: to advance bodies of knowledge and to equip students for doing the same. When teachers offer themselves as moralists, political activists, or agents of social change rather than as credentialed experts in a particular subject and the methods used to analyze it, they abdicate their true purpose.”

Whether we agree or not, I think it’s important for us to understand and appreciate this point of view.

Lowering Higher Education: The Rise of Corporate Universities and the Fall of Liberal Education by James Coté and Anton Allahar

A few years ago I reviewed the first book by these two professors from the University of Western Ontario, Ivory Tower Blues. While hardly flawless, Ivory Tower Blues presented a long overdue critique of Canadian universities and brought to the forefront issues like underpreparedness, parental involvement and lack of engagement. I look forward to their follow-up.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other by Sherry Turkle

I’ve been reading about the impact of technology, particularly on youth and young adults, for years now but remain unconvinced by both sides of the argument. MIT professor Sherry Turkle’s been studying this phenomenon for 15 years and has discovered “new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude.” I am hoping Alone Together will help all of us deepen our understanding of the emotional impact of the digital era on our students.

I do hope some of you will get your hands on one or more these books and contribute to the discussion, either here on the blog or at CACUSS 2011 at Ryerson in Toronto this June.

— Deanne Fisher

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One thought on “The Big Reveal: my reading list for Open Book IIX

  1. Valeria says:

    The books look great, Deanne. I’m particularly interested in Fish’s book. I hope you have a really good conversation and congrats on the 8th year of the book review!

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