Andrew Delbanco, author of College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be (Princeton University Press, 2012), spoke at an event sponsored by the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy on October 29th. In a lecture titled, Interesting Times: Reflections on America’s Colleges, Delbanco described higher education as an enterprise in flux, beleaguered by bad public relations, high tuition cost, and public disenchantment with the hands-on learning that takes place within its walls.
Delbanco described undergraduate education as historically a time of reflection for students to think about who they are and who they want to be. An ideal education, he noted, teaches students to “speak with civility, listen with respect, and support their arguments with evidence.” He questioned whether online learning was an effective tool for achieving these goals.
Delbanco is the Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies. His essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books and The New Republic on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education. In 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named America’s Best Social Critic by Time Magazine. In 2011, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.
The event was attended by students and alumni from Steinhardt’s master’s and doctoral program in higher and postsecondary education.