Graduate education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in
American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates
for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is
diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in
journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a
rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).
A pretty grim pronouncement...with an uncomfortable degree of truth, probably.
Anyway, Taylor suggests that higher education is in dire need of complete restructuring. To this end, he suggests that we take the following steps:
1. Completely restructure the curriculum: Taylor wants to get rid of the tiered learning structure, and replace it with a "web-like" system of learning and scholarship, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary education, which leads to his second point...
2. Abolish permanent departments: Taylor does not like the traditional disciplines. Rather, he suggests organizing university programs around questions or research problems, drawing on a range of expertise to interrogate a variety of topics.
3. Increase inter-institutional collaborations: and Taylor doesn't want to just stop there...he wants different universities and institutes to augment their research with workers from elsewhere.
4. Kill the standard model of The Dissertation: probably the easiest sell, right? 600+ page tomes that no one will ever read, AND you have to re-format everything anyway to gets papers out of it? Yes please.
5. Expand the range of professional options for grad students: meaning that they don't JUST TA or RA for their Profs, but do other things (Taylor is a little vague, here)
6. Impose mandatory retirement, and abolish tenure, requiring professors to keep their work new and exciting.
While I agree with the frustration that Taylor feels for higher education (ESPECIALLY in regards to the Dissertation and getting rid of tenure for profs) , I'm not sure if this is the right way to go about reformatting the University. In particular, the perpetual call for "more interdisciplinary work" is always a little bothersome; what exactly is meant by "more interdisciplinary", and how are you supposed to implement it without a sound grounding in the basics of some standard discipline?
What do you guys think?