February 15, 2015

Book Chapter: Meaningful Change Comes From the Shop Floor

Generating, Growing and Governing in Liberal Education
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Chapter Summary:

Arguing that faculty-led curricular and pedagogical change is among the most important forms of faculty self-governance, Steven Horowitz underscores the importance of understanding the social ecology of faculty life in his essay " Meaningful Change Comes from the Shop Floor: Generating, growing and governing in liberal education." Horowitz argues that the most effective and sustainable pedagogical changes come not from top-down mandates about how better to teach, but rather faculty coming together on their own to organize formal or informal education arenas to discuss their work.

Book Summary:

Concerns over affordability and accountability have tended to direct focus away from the central aims of liberal learning, such as preparing minds for free inquiry and inculcating the habits of mind, practical skills, and values necessary for effective participation in civil society. The contributors to this volume seek to understand better what it is that can be done on a day-to-day basis within institutions of liberal learning that shape the habits and practices of civil society.

The central argument of this volume is that institutions of liberal learning are critical to a developing and flourishing civil society. It is within these "civil society incubators" that the habits of open discourse are practiced and honed; that a collaborative (often contentious) commitment to truth seeking serves as the rules that govern our work together; that the rules of personal and widespread social cooperation are established, practiced, and refined. Many have made this argument as it relates to community based learning, and we explore that theme here as well. But acquiring and practicing the habits of civil society recur within and throughout the college context—in the classrooms, in college governance structures, in professional associations, in collaborative research, in the residence halls, and on the playing field. To put it another way, when they are at their best, institutions of liberal learning are contexts in which students learn how to live in a free society and learn the art of self-governance. 

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