Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

From Where I Sit - Recommended Reading

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

From Where I Sit - Recommended Reading

Article excerpt

I was asked last week to suggest a "higher education book" that the prime minister of a Central Asian nation could read on his vacation. He wanted something that would deepen his understanding of universities, how they work and what they contribute to the nation or the region. Preferably in English and not too academic. And, of course, the book was required "now". And as his aide said, "How hard can this be? You read all the time."

It didn't seem like a difficult task until I began. It needed to be something fresh. The prime minister had read all the usual stuff, such as Jamil Salmi's monograph on The Challenge of Establishing World-Class Universities, and knows the human capital argument better than Tom Friedman.

My first thought was to go back in time. How about Henry Rosovsky's The University: An Owner's Manual? It is readable, occasionally funny and gives an insight into the complexities of managing an institution with diffused authority and competing incentives. But published in 1991 and based on the author's term as dean of arts and sciences at Harvard throughout the 1980s, it seemed a little dated. The prime minister could get the same messages from C.P. Snow's The Masters, which would also remind him that the academic community is very small and its politics very personal. But then he runs a Cabinet that reminds him of that almost daily.

Thinking of Snow and his Strangers and Brothers series, I wondered about slipping The New Men into the pile. This might be a good way of reminding the prime minister of the tensions between the creators of new knowledge and those who seek to apply it for good, for power and for economic growth. This would be timely because debates about the commercialisation of research and the level of state investment in science are looming.

Digging more deeply into the fiction pile, I discarded the student-life novels, such as I Am Charlotte Simmons, and the faculty novels of Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.