The Fifth Wave: The Evolution of American Higher Education

Johns Hopkins. Apr. 2020. 496p. ISBN 9781421438023. $34.95. ED
Eschewing the pessimistic view of most contemporary studies of higher education, Crow (president, Arizona State Univ.) and Dabars (senior director of research, New American Univ.) lay out a new model of the American university that combines research excellence with expanded undergraduate enrollments. This new “Fifth Wave” of universities is committed to scaling up service to the public and broadening undergraduate access. The authors acknowledge several universities that are working together to develop and promote these goals, but provide extensive information on their own institution. In fewer than 20 years, Arizona State has grown sharply, admitting more undergraduates from previously underrepresented groups, improving retention and graduation rates, and expanding research output and funding. The structure of the university for teaching and research has been reconceptualized and centered on scientific and social challenges. Technology and online learning have expanded participation and enhanced student success. The authors explain their vision and their achievements and encourage other universities to join them.
VERDICT Crow and Dabars support their exciting new paradigm for American universities with extensive data, theoretical frameworks, and integration of research in the field, illuminating their argument for a new approach to higher education that will better serve American society and democracy.
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