Bleak horizon: a survey on new books on higher education

Michael Marien (, LaFayette, New York, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Publication date: 27 September 2011



The article seeks to provide an overview of 55 recent books (2009‐2011) on higher education, with special emphasis on the authoritative overview edited Altbach et al., American Higher Education in the Twenty‐First Century (Johns Hopkins, 3rd Edition, June 2011, 511 pp.).


Books are grouped in nine categories: Global trends, Losing autonomy, Faculty, Students, Finance, Digitization, Curriculum, Diversity, and Moving forward. A concluding Coda discusses an important new paradigm of four types of scholarship, proposed in the seminal 1990 report on Scholarship Reconsidered, and the two types of scholarship that continue to be badly lacking in the academy, to the detriment of the world, the nation, and higher education itself.


American higher education is undergoing many changes and stresses, and all of the books considered here point to a “bleak horizon” in various ways, in part caused by the outdated structure of higher education. Altbach issues a timely call for a new “sense of academic mission,” which is discussed in the Coda.


This uniquely broad and up‐to‐date “frontier frame” overview, enabled by the web site on current affairs books, emphases the many perspectives on higher education, provides a broad frame to appreciate current thinking, and encourages more synthesis that seriously addresses the “Knowledge for What?” question.



Marien, M. (2011), "Bleak horizon: a survey on new books on higher education", On the Horizon, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 341-349.

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