New book links America’s ills to ‘a failure of education’ – Inside Higher Ed

by | Jul 29, 2022 | Education

In his new book, After the Ivory Tower Falls: How College Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics—and How to Fix It (William Morrow), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Will Bunch, national opinion columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, traces the evolution of American higher education since World War II, exploring how it fueled—and was fueled by—the country’s deep political and cultural divides. In a phone interview with Inside Higher Ed, Bunch attributed many of this country’s current travails—from climate change denial to the Jan. 6 insurrection—to “a failure of education.” Excerpts of the conversation follow, edited for length and clarity.Q: Your book tells the history of modern America through the breakdown of higher education. Where did the trouble begin?
A: The history of college and the modern history of America are more intertwined than people realize. The culture wars in this country really came out of the campus protest culture of the 1960s and how people reacted to [them]. And campus protests were the big thing that propelled Ronald Reagan’s political career, for example … I think the story of America after World War II is the story of a country that suddenly found itself more affluent and realized that knowledge and technology and learning were the key to getting ahead. Because of that understanding, you saw this massive investment during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s in higher education—in building new dorms an …

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