What We Are Reading Today: Two Cheers for Higher Education by Steven Brint

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Updated 13 August 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Two Cheers for Higher Education by Steven Brint

Crushing student debt, rapidly eroding state funding, faculty embroiled in speech controversies, a higher-education market disrupted by online competition—today’s headlines suggest that universities’ power to advance knowledge and shape American society is rapidly declining. But Steven Brint, a renowned analyst of academic institutions, has tracked numerous trends demonstrating their vitality. After a recent period that witnessed soaring student enrollment and ample research funding, universities, he argues, are in a better position than ever before.

Focusing on the years 1980–2015, Brint details the trajectory of American universities, which was influenced by evolving standards of disciplinary professionalism, market-driven partnerships (especially with scientific and technological innovators outside the academy), and the goal of social inclusion. 

Conflicts arose: Academic entrepreneurs, for example, flouted their campus responsibilities, and departments faced backlash over the hiring of scholars with nontraditional research agendas. Nevertheless, educators’ commitments to technological innovation and social diversity prevailed and created a new dynamism.

Brint documents these successes along with the challenges that result from rapid change. Today, knowledge-driven industries generate almost half of U.S. GDP, but divisions by educational level split the American political order. Students flock increasingly to fields connected to the power centers of American life and steer away from the liberal arts. And opportunities for economic mobility are expanding even as academic expectations decline.


What We Are Reading Today: Economic Statecraft by David A. Baldwin

Updated 24 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Economic Statecraft by David A. Baldwin

Today’s complex and dangerous world demands a complete understanding of all the techniques of statecraft, not just military ones. David Baldwin’s Economic Statecraft presents an analytic framework for evaluating such techniques and uses it to challenge the notion that economic instruments of foreign policy do not work. Integrating insights from economics, political science, psychology, philosophy, history, law, and sociology, this bold and provocative book explains not only the utility of economic statecraft but also its morality, legality, and role in the history of international thought.

Economic Statecraft is a landmark work that has fundamentally redefined how nations evaluate crucial choices of war and peace. Now with a substantial new preface by the author and an afterword by esteemed foreign-policy expert Ethan Kapstein, this new edition introduces today’s generation of readers to the principles and applications of economic statecraft.