83 books like The Breakdown of Higher Education

By John M. Ellis,

Here are 83 books that The Breakdown of Higher Education fans have personally recommended if you like The Breakdown of Higher Education. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Christopher Dale Author Of Better Halves: Rebuilding a Post-Addiction Marriage

From my list on couples recovering from addiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a husband, father, writer, and recovering addict – and not necessarily in that order. Early in my marriage, I became a full-blown, low-bottom cocaine addict. While it wasn’t surprising that active addiction nearly led to divorce, my wife and I were baffled and discouraged when my newfound sobriety brought its own existential marital issues. Frustratingly, there was a dearth of resources for couples in recovery, especially compared to the ample support available to recovering addicts. As an avid freelance writer, I decided to add to this sparse genre by sharing our struggles, setbacks, and successes en route to a happy, secure marriage. 

Christopher's book list on couples recovering from addiction

Christopher Dale Why did Christopher love this book?

What’s a book against language policing and cancel culture doing on a list about post-addiction marriage? Simple: the self-obsessed, oft-offended nonsense permeating universities exemplifies what married couples in recovery must roundly reject. 

The book’s co-authors – a social psychologist and a free speech activist – profess three Great Untruths adversely affecting Generation Z: 

What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker. This prompts us to avoid narratives challenging our preconceived notions or personal experiences. 

Always trust your feelings. Among other problems, unquestionably trusting our feelings leads to taking offense when none is intended.

Life is a battle between good and evil people. This leads to a blame-first mentality that assumes the worst about others. 

They may as well have been speaking to married couples attempting to stay together post-recovery.

By Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Coddling of the American Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller * Finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction * A New York Times Notable Book * Bloomberg Best Book of 2018

"Their distinctive contribution to the higher-education debate is to meet safetyism on its own, psychological turf . . . Lukianoff and Haidt tell us that safetyism undermines the freedom of inquiry and speech that are indispensable to universities." -Jonathan Marks, Commentary

"The remedies the book outlines should be considered on college campuses, among parents of current and future students, and by anyone longing for a more sane society." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Something…


Book cover of The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics

Keith E. Stanovich Author Of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

From my list on university identity politics and political correctness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an emeritus professor living in Portland, Oregon, officially retired, but still writing articles and books. Although I am a lifelong US citizen, I spent the heart of my career as the Canada Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. Most of my books are about aspects of rationality, especially cognitive biases. I have also worked on tools for measuring individual differences in rationality. Lately, I have focused on ways to reduce political polarization by taming the myside bias that plagues all human thought, and by reforming institutions (especially universities) that are currently failing in their role as knowledge adjudicators. 

Keith's book list on university identity politics and political correctness

Keith E. Stanovich Why did Keith love this book?

Lilla’s goal in this book is to show how identity politics threatens the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party. He argues that the party has thrown citizenship—the “we” in political conversation—out the window in favor of “personal identities in terms of the inner homunculus, a unique little thing composed of parts tinted by race, sex, and gender,” and that this will be electorally disastrous for the Democrats. But Lilla’s arguments show that it is disastrous for our national conversation as well. When we give personal identity weight in an argument (Lilla is superb at eviscerating the shopworn phrase “speaking as an X”) we turn the intellectual clock back to premodern times when arguments were settled by power and force.

By Mark Lilla,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Once and Future Liberal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the most internationally admired political thinkers, a controversial polemic on the failures of identity politics and what comes next for the left — in America and beyond.

Following the shocking results of the US election of 2016, public intellectuals across the globe offered theories and explanations, but few were met with such vitriol, panic, and debate as Mark Lilla’s. The Once and Future Liberal is a passionate plea to liberals to turn from the divisive politics of identity and develop a vision of the future that can persuade all citizens that they share a common destiny.

Driven…


Book cover of The Assault on American Excellence

Keith E. Stanovich Author Of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

From my list on university identity politics and political correctness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an emeritus professor living in Portland, Oregon, officially retired, but still writing articles and books. Although I am a lifelong US citizen, I spent the heart of my career as the Canada Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. Most of my books are about aspects of rationality, especially cognitive biases. I have also worked on tools for measuring individual differences in rationality. Lately, I have focused on ways to reduce political polarization by taming the myside bias that plagues all human thought, and by reforming institutions (especially universities) that are currently failing in their role as knowledge adjudicators. 

Keith's book list on university identity politics and political correctness

Keith E. Stanovich Why did Keith love this book?

Kronman is particularly good at describing the “tough” reasoning skills that underlie the thinking styles that have produced modern science and modern democracies. An example of these tough skills is what he calls the “ethic of depersonalization”: expressing arguments in a form available to all—a form not dependent on our emotions or personal experience. Identity politics, in contrast, gives weight to immutable demographic characteristics in ongoing political conversations.  It thus reverses centuries of progress in the intellectual march toward open, ecumenical inquiry, where personal characteristics do not trump rational argument.

By Anthony T. Kronman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Assault on American Excellence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I want to call it a cry of the heart, but it's more like a cry of the brain, a calm and erudite one." -Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

The former dean of Yale Law School argues that the feverish egalitarianism gripping college campuses today is a threat to our democracy.

College education is under attack from all sides these days. Most of the handwringing-over free speech, safe zones, trigger warnings, and the babying of students-has focused on the excesses of political correctness. That may be true, but as Anthony Kronman shows, it's not the real problem.

"Necessary, humane,…


Book cover of The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars

Keith E. Stanovich Author Of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

From my list on university identity politics and political correctness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an emeritus professor living in Portland, Oregon, officially retired, but still writing articles and books. Although I am a lifelong US citizen, I spent the heart of my career as the Canada Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. Most of my books are about aspects of rationality, especially cognitive biases. I have also worked on tools for measuring individual differences in rationality. Lately, I have focused on ways to reduce political polarization by taming the myside bias that plagues all human thought, and by reforming institutions (especially universities) that are currently failing in their role as knowledge adjudicators. 

Keith's book list on university identity politics and political correctness

Keith E. Stanovich Why did Keith love this book?

Campbell and Manning are sociologists who trace how a new moral culture of victimhood has given rise to political correctness. The new moral culture combines the properties of the old culture of honor and the old culture of dignity in a uniquely toxic way. The new victimhood culture borrows from honor culture its extreme sensitivity to insult, but borrows from the culture of dignity the tendency to call upon authorities and institutions to resolve disputes, rather than deal with them on a personal level. The victimhood culture is what has spawned the repressive campus environment of micro-aggressions, deplatforming, and bias response teams.

By Bradley Campbell, Jason Manning,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise of Victimhood Culture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Rise of Victimhood Culture offers a framework for understanding recent moral conflicts at U.S. universities, which have bled into society at large. These are not the familiar clashes between liberals and conservatives or the religious and the secular: instead, they are clashes between a new moral culture-victimhood culture-and a more traditional culture of dignity. Even as students increasingly demand trigger warnings and "safe spaces," many young people are quick to police the words and deeds of others, who in turn claim that political correctness has run amok. Interestingly, members of both camps often consider themselves victims of the other.…


Book cover of What’s Happened To The University? A Sociological Exploration of Its Infantilisation

Dennis Hayes Author Of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education

From my list on recognising the therapeutic turn in education.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing articles for the education press I became aware of how children and young people were presented as vulnerable, as potential victims. Sometimes they also saw themselves in this way as weak, unable to cope, and lacking in the ability to take control of their lives. This seemed to me to be damaging and needed challenging. But writing about the therapeutic turn was not enough. What had to be challenged was the fear of freedom and speech and debate that were essential to beginning to take control of your life. In response I set up Academics For Academic Freedom, the leading campaign group for free speech, no ifs, no buts. 

Dennis' book list on recognising the therapeutic turn in education

Dennis Hayes Why did Dennis love this book?

Frank Furedi is one of the world’s leading intellectuals. He has written on a wide range of issues from parenting, reading, education, therapy culture, risk, and on philosophical topics. I think this book brings together his many sociological books and papers with a concrete focus on one institution, the university. It provides a wider and more detailed discussion of the therapeutic university than Kathryn Ecclestone and I could in our book. He covers issues such as ‘safe spaces,’ ‘micro-aggressions,’ and ‘trigger warnings’ that suggest the university is dangerous place for vulnerable young minds. The tragedy of the contemporary university for Furedi, and me, is that it has become just a ‘big school’ in which students are treated like children. 

By Frank Furedi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What’s Happened To The University? A Sociological Exploration of Its Infantilisation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The radical transformation that universities are undergoing today is no less far-reaching than the upheavals that it experienced in the 1960s. However today, when almost 50 per cent of young people participate in higher education, what occurs in universities matters directly to the whole of society.

On both sides of the Atlantic curious and disturbing events on campuses has become a matter of concern not just for academics but also for the general public. What is one to make of the growing trend of banning speakers? What's the meaning of trigger warnings, cultural appropriation, micro-aggression or safe spaces? And why…


Book cover of The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind: Thomas Jefferson's Idea of a University

John A. Ragosta Author Of For the People, For the Country: Patrick Henry's Final Political Battle

From my list on recent history about USA and problems.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early America who previously practiced law for 20 years. I have both my PhD and JD from the University of Virginia. I have taught at the University of Virginia, George Washington University, Hamilton, Oberlin, and Randolph Colleges. I have also worked at Jefferson’s Monticello for many years. While American history is often misused for narrow political ends, I am convinced that good history is not only fascinating but can assist us in understanding our world and current challenges.

John's book list on recent history about USA and problems

John A. Ragosta Why did John love this book?

As a double UVA grad, I knew that Jefferson was the founder and that the school had been built largely by enslaved laborers. This book uplifted and depressed me: I was uplifted by the ferocity with which Jefferson pursued the importance of a secular university (owned by the state and without religious affiliation) and the revolutionary flexibility of its curriculum.

I was depressed by how much of the structure and the University’s early life were completely intertwined with slavery. Some of the stories are shocking.

By Andrew J. O'Shaughnessy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Already renowned as a statesman, Thomas Jefferson in his retirement from government turned his attention to the founding of an institution of higher learning. Never merely a patron, the former president oversaw every aspect of the creation of what would become the University of Virginia. Along with the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, he regarded it as one of the three greatest achievements in his life. Nonetheless, historians often treat this period as an epilogue to Jefferson's career.

In The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind, Andrew O'Shaughnessy offers a twin biography of Jefferson in…


Book cover of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study

J. Moufawad-Paul Author Of Austerity Apparatus

From my list on the state and state repression.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of my long-standing interests, as a political philosopher, has been to examine the deployment of state power and the state forms (what I call states of affairs) the capitalist mode of production takes in order to preserve its economic order. Since I completed my doctorate, which was on the articulation of settler-colonial power in relationship to remaining settler states, I have largely been invested in thinking politics: how dominant politics maintain the current order, how counter-hegemonic politics disrupt this order. 

J.'s book list on the state and state repression

J. Moufawad-Paul Why did J. love this book?

I first read The Undercommons in a virtual reading group during the early months of the COVID pandemic and was quite taken by its poetics and unfolding conceptual terrain. Beginning with an analysis of academia as a significant ideological state apparatus, Moten and Harney also discuss multiple forms of state violence and capture in racial capitalist formations. From the notion of the settler-capitalist garrison responding to “the surround” of the colonized and marginalized, to the connection between policy and policing, to the logic of reified colonial conquest, to logistics and professionalization, The Undercommons is a meditation on methods of state repression and forms of resistance. Arguing that recognition of the “general antagonism” that underlies the state is necessary for revolutionary politics, Moten and Harney end up echoing Lenin’s insights about class antagonism and false reconciliation in The State and Revolution.

By Stefano Harney, Fred Moten,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Undercommons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Literary Nonfiction. African American Studies. Politics. Philosophy & Critical Theory. Introduction by Jack Halberstam. In this series of essays, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney draw on the theory and practice of the black radical tradition as it supports, inspires, and extends contemporary social and political thought and aesthetic critique. Today the general wealth of social life finds itself confronted by mutations in the mechanisms of control: the proliferation of capitalist logistics, governance by credit, and the management of pedagogy. Working from and within the social poesis of life in THE UNDERCOMMONS, Moten and Harney develop and expand an array of…


Book cover of Successful Fund Raising for Higher Education: The Advancement of Learning

Mark William Roche Author Of Realizing the Distinctive University: Vision and Values, Strategy and Culture

From my list on faculty who find themselves in administration.

Why am I passionate about this?

The year after I got tenure, I became a chairperson, overseeing more than twenty faculty members in my department at Ohio State University. I continued in administration for the next seventeen years, serving as a dean at Notre Dame for more then a decade. I am convinced that the best books on higher education interweave ideas, anecdotes, and data. I pursued that genre here, engaging the questions, what makes a university distinctive and how can one best flourish as an administrator.

Mark's book list on faculty who find themselves in administration

Mark William Roche Why did Mark love this book?

When you enter higher administration, you need a vision and you need the people and resources to realize that vision.

Most books for chairpersons and deans are about vision and about hiring and mentoring faculty and staff, but how to garner resources is perhaps the area that is addressed the least. I found this book helpful as an initial guide.

Basically, it offers a comprehensive account of academic fundraising, with practical advice and detailed examples from academic leaders and senior development professionals. The introduction and first two chapters provide a superb introduction for persons new to academic fundraising.

By Frank H.T. Rhodes (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Successful Fund Raising for Higher Education as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Successful Fund Raising is a compilation of essays by university presidents and chief advancement officers who share their fundraising successes and demonstrate the importance of a team effort among the campus chief executive officer, the trustees, and the senior staff officer in charge of the advancement program. The authors discuss how the advancement function is integrated into an institution's ongoing planning process, as well as the respective roles and responsibilities of key players in this process. The contributing authors also share specific information about their advancement programs, including their goals, strategies, and tactics. The successful programs covered in this book…


Book cover of The Evidence Liberal Arts Needs: Lives of Consequence, Inquiry, and Accomplishment

Sanjay Sarma Author Of Grasp: The Science Transforming How We Learn

From my list on helping us reimagine what education could be.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm passionate about understanding and fixing how we teach and learn for a simple reason: My own journey as a learner was very nearly cut short. While attending one of the most competitive universities in India, I witnessed firsthand what can happen when a once-promising student runs into learning roadblocks. I nearly gave up on my academic career, only to be saved by—of all things—a hands-on, corporate training program. As I moved back into academia, it became my goal, first as an educator and later as MIT’s Vice President for Open Learning, to empower how we teach and learn with findings from cutting-edge research. And to avail these possibilities to as many learners as possible. 

Sanjay's book list on helping us reimagine what education could be

Sanjay Sarma Why did Sanjay love this book?

There has lately been an unfortunate tendency among educational observers and policymakers to reduce the value proposition of higher ed to purely measurable metrics: money spent; time spent; money earned. In this sort of analysis, the hard-nosed science and technology subjects tend to come out on top. Those who would speak for the humanities and arts, meanwhile, make the valid but sometimes unsatisfying point that there are benefits—perhaps less readily measurable but still very real and of significant personal and social value—to softer-edged subjects. The goal of The Evidence Liberal Arts Needs is simple: to correct this asymmetry by measuring what was previously obscure. By the end of this book, readers will be convinced of the true and lasting value of the liberal arts tradition in higher education.

By Richard A. Detweiler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Evidence Liberal Arts Needs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Empirical evidence for the value of a liberal arts education: how and why it has a lasting impact on success, leadership, altruism, learning, and fulfillment.

In ongoing debates over the value of a college education, the role of the liberal arts in higher education has been blamed by some for making college expensive, impractical, and even worthless. Defenders argue that liberal arts education makes society innovative, creative, and civic-minded. But these qualities are hard to quantify, and many critics of higher education call for courses of study to be strictly job-specific. In this groundbreaking book, Richard Detweiler, drawing on interviews…


Book cover of Daring to Educate: The Legacy of the Early Spelman College Presidents

Nancy Woloch Author Of The Insider: A Life of Virginia C. Gildersleeve

From my list on women’s colleges and their histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teacher of US women’s history and educational history, I have long been interested in women’s colleges—in their faculties, administrators, students, alumnae, goals, and achievements. Most recently, as the biographer of a woman educator (a dean of Barnard College in the early 20th century), I became more deeply involved with the literature on single-sex schools. Major books focus on the older women’s colleges, the “Seven Sisters,” but devote attention to other colleges as well. I am impressed with the talents of historians, with their skill at asking questions of their subjects, with the intensity of mission at the women’s schools, and with changing styles of campus culture.

Nancy's book list on women’s colleges and their histories

Nancy Woloch Why did Nancy love this book?

Recent concern with intersectionality (instances where categories of race and gender overlap) makes research into Black women’s colleges vital. Founded in 1881 as a Baptist female seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, Spelman College became a leading women’s liberal arts college. The book tracks the impact of four college presidents from the outset to the 1950s. The authors show how the formal academic curriculum, extra-curriculum (college-sponsored activities), and hidden curriculum (informal and even inadvertent influences) instilled an imperative to excel.

By Yolanda L. Watson, Sheila T. Gregory,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daring to Educate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presents the history of Spelman's foundation through the tenure of its fourth president, Florence M. Read, in1953. The story is brought up to date by the contributions of Spelman's current president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, and by Johnnetta B. Cole.

The book chronicles how the vision each of these women presidents, and their response to changing social forces, both profoundly shaped Spelman's curriculum and influenced the lives and minds of thousands of young Black women.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in higher education, political correctness, and identity politics?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about higher education, political correctness, and identity politics.

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