So I’ve gotten lots and lots comments on my MINDING THE CAMPUS “short take” on cutting higher education costs by scuttling the hotel.
Here’s a nice appreciation by a new leftist. It’s more evidence still that, on behalf of genuinely higher education, lefties of a certain kind and we conservatives unite against the libertarians. We also unite with the Porchers and after-virtue followers of MacIntyre and even the “American conservatives,” despite their silly political views.
I’m starting to cave on the criticism that we can’t do without teaching lab science altogether. So I’m thinking we’ll add a single lab and hire a single, highly flexible natural scientist. Maybe (against my principles but cost cutting is on my mind) an adjunct or two. Other courses, of course, will teach students to be consumers of genuine breakthroughs in natural science, what’s true about evolutionary psychology and neuroscience, and so forth.
The new leftist suggests that we should have enough science that a student can go on to medical school. Well, I’ve argued for years that colleges should have a minimalist pre-med minor, which includes just enough science to meet admissions requirements and kill the MCAT. But I’m not sure we should need all that. Several of my students over the decades have taken a year after college to take those required courses and volunteer in an ER. That combo—together with the liberal arts degree—have made them plenty prepared for and plenty attractive to medical schools. There’s no reason at all, in any case, why those who think of themselves as “pre-med” should major in biology or biochemistry.
I’m intrigued by the suggestion of a single lab course in engineering. But that would be expensive. Let the interested student take that over the summer at some state school. It would be cheap and maybe a good idea to have a couple of courses in accounting. I think I would like the economist (if we have one) to be competent enough to teach such courses on the side.
A lot of people have complained that the college is short on character-based perks, such as those you’d find at TAC. They would include a religion program that would infuse dorm life. Sure, those things are great, but they’re pretty expensive. As my college’s president reminded me, TAC isn’t exactly a discount institution. If mine were a religious college in a serious way, it would be more expensive.
My “utopia,” like all literary utopias, is a device to highlight what’s essential to human education.
Lots of people on the MINDING site and elsewhere want to come to and teach at this utopian institution. But what I need first is a founding donor or two, after whom the college would be named!