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The Synthetic University

How Higher Education Can Benefit from Shared Solutions and Save Itself
James L. Shulman(Autor*in)
Princeton University Press
1. Auflage
Erschienen am 3. Oktober 2023
272 Seiten
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978-0-691-23762-6 (ISBN)
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A bold, collaborative vision for combatting the ever-rising cost of college

US colleges and universities have long been the envy of the world. Institutional autonomy has fostered creativity among faculty, students, and staff. But this autonomy means that colleges tend to create their own solutions for every need. As a result, higher education suffers from costly redundancies that drive tuitions ever upward, putting higher education, essential to the fabric of the country, at risk. Instead of wishful thinking about collaboration or miraculous subsidies, The Synthetic University describes intermediary organizations that can provide innovative, cost-effective solutions.

Offering answers to challenges jointly faced by thousands of institutions, James Shulman lays out a compelling new vision of how to reduce spending while enabling schools to maintain their particular contributions. He explains why colleges are so resistant to change and presents illuminating case studies of mission-driven and market-supported entrepreneurial organizations-such as the student tracking infrastructure of the National Student Clearinghouse or the ambitious effort of classics professors to create a shared transinstitutional department. Mixing theory with lessons drawn from his own experience, he demonstrates how to finance and implement the organizations that can synthesize much-needed solutions.

A road map for sustained institutional change, The Synthetic University shows how to overcome colleges' do-it-yourself impulses, avoid the threat of disruption, and preserve the institutions that we need to conduct basic research, foster innovation, and prepare diverse students to lead meaningful and productive lives.

James L. Shulman is vice president and chief operating officer of the American Council of Learned Societies. He collaborated with William G. Bowen and Derek Bok on The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions and is the author (with William G. Bowen) of The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values (both Princeton).
  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Preface: How Higher Education Can Benefit from Shared Solutions and Save Itself
  • 1. The Synthetic Service Provider
  • The National Student Clearinghouse
  • The Problem with Relying Only on the Market
  • Artstor: One Shared Solution
  • 2. Scanning Mona Lisa
  • A Conversation with a Professor
  • Artstor's Second Product: Shared Shelf
  • Times Change
  • Lessons Learned: What Worked (Artstor)
  • Lessons Learned: What Didn't Work (Shared Shelf)
  • 3. The Hard Reality of Observed Practices: Institutional Resistance to Change
  • A Theory of Change
  • The Individual-Organization Split
  • The Department-Organization Split
  • The Alliance of Individuals and Their National Peers
  • Interinstitutional Department-to-Department Alliances
  • Data, Myth, and Mission
  • 4. Rewriting Myths: Institutional Entrepreneurs
  • The Institutional Entrepreneur
  • The External Solution: Fitting In
  • An Ambitious External Entity with Aligned Aims
  • The Importance of the Market Test
  • 5. The Incomplete Financing System for Mission- and Market-Compatible Ventures
  • Faster Cures: Sharing a Goal as Prerequisite for Systems Change
  • The Venture Philanthropy Model
  • Impact Investing: Can Market Investors Do Well While Doing Good in Higher Education?
  • Schoolzilla: A Case of Funding Mission-Driven Work
  • Switchboard: A Case That Shows the Limits of the System
  • Aligning Players and Capital in Support of a Shared Goal
  • 6. The Possibilities of the Collective Curriculum
  • Mechanisms of a Shared Curriculum
  • Sunoikisis: The Role of Insiders in Institutional Change
  • The Textbook as Synthetic Mechanism
  • Interinstitutional Plumbing
  • The Continuing Threat of Extractive Partners
  • 7. Conclusion: Choosing to Change
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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