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Can Higher Education Be Transformed to Better Serve Society?

Can Higher Education Be Transformed to Better Serve Society? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

(L–R) Joseph Castro, G. Gabrielle Starr, Michael Crow, Jennifer Ruark. Collage by ASU journalism student Hannah Foote.

Moderated by Jennifer Ruark, Deputy Managing Editor, Chronicle of Higher Education

America’s higher education system faces a crisis of legitimacy. Colleges and universities, while promoting themselves as forces for social mobility, have stacked the deck against their neediest students. Rising college costs, skyrocketing student debt, and increasingly out-of-touch curricula are leading more Americans to question the fairness and value of higher education. What is right, and what misses the mark, in these mounting critiques of our colleges and universities? Can institutions be forced to make sweeping changes to tuition structures, endowment spending, and affirmative action—or are these changes destined to produce more conflict? And what would it take for higher education to transform itself to better serve society?

Arizona State University President Michael Crow, co-author of The Fifth Wave: The Evolution of American Higher Education, Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr, and California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro visit Zócalo for an in-depth discussion of how to make American higher education a stronger force for equity and innovation.

The Takeaway