Ideas for an Education-themed Blog

College sports on campus: Almost no other country integrates athletics into higher education as the U.S. does. What are the potential benefits or consequences to higher education when most people casually associate a university with its athletics program? What would happen if universities did not offer intercollegiate sports, or if no scholarships were awarded for college sports? Are there problems with the dynamic between ‘major sports’ and ‘minor sports’ on campus? Should athletic departments be completely independent, funding-wise, from the rest of the university? What does the rhetoric of “student-athlete” attempt to accomplish? Should student-athletes receive a financial stipend in addition to scholarships? How has the culture around college athletics influenced high school—even middle or elementary school—athletics? To what extent do college sports reflect a broader cultural attitude toward sports in the U.S.?

Role of public education: What is causing the increasingly high cost of public education in the U.S., and are there any solutions that all stakeholders might find viable? What would be the consequences of offering any type of debt cancellation? What are the goals of “public education,” and does public education lead to a different notion of citizenship than parochial or private schooling?  What is there to make of the fact that nominally public universities are receiving less and less funding from the state?  Is this a problem, or is public higher education an outdated notion? Should arguments about public education continue to focus on jobs and America’s competition with other nations? Aside from jobs, what other rationales are there for public education—either now or historically—and are these viable?

Liberal arts: In a broad sense, what are the “values” of general elective courses in the “liberal arts,” or of the liberal arts as a general organizing principle for an education?  These could be moral, ethical, civic, or financial. In 1953, C. P. Snow famously wrote about the irreconcilable “two cultures” of the humanities and the sciences. Are there still two completely different cultures on campus, have these two cultures fractured into even more divisions, or are there broader similarities of purpose between the humanities and the sciences that debates about the subject are missing?  Do the ideals of the liberal arts conflict with the desire to teach and take classes that will lead one immediately to a job?  Do the ideal of the liberal arts conflict with specialization, i.e., with being expected to know early in your educational career what you want to do, declaring your major, and avoiding other disciplines to whatever extent possible?  If these things are in conflict, which should we prioritize?

Diversity:  Do questions of diversity play out any differently on college campuses from how we might think of them in other contexts?  Are the student populations of college campuses sufficiently diverse?  Are there problems produced by diversity or by the lack thereof on college campuses?  Do different kinds of conflicts emerge at schools with relatively diverse populations than at schools with less diverse populations?

Funding:  Given the skyrocketing cost of tuition and the record levels of student debt, what is to be done about the funding of higher education?  Likewise, given budget crunches in states and municipalities, how might we more effectively fund K-12 education?  Where should this funding come from?

Affirmative action: Does/Should affirmative action play a different role in higher education than in the workplace? To what extent is the value educational institutions place on diversity linked to affirmative action? (For more questions, see Race.)

Colleges and college towns:  How should institutions of higher education relate to the towns in which they are situated—towns that often predate those institutions?  How should students relate to non-student residents of college towns?  How do students relate to non-student residents?  Are there tensions between these populations?  If so, what might we think about doing to resolve those tensions?