Mark C. Taylor on college majors: are they a thing of the past?

Mark TaylorThis spring, Mark Taylor’s New York Times op-ed, “End the University as We Know It,” in which he referred to graduate education as the “Detroit of higher learning,” engendered a great deal of debate and a fair amount of anger in some quarters. In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Taylor was again asked to comment on contemporary higher education and specifically on the continuing relevance of the specialized major.

As the article states, “remarkably little about this system [college majors] has changed during the last 60 years.” Taylor, however, argues that technology and a changing world should necessitate changes in how students organize their studies. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Telling students how to put their educations together is a thing of the past,” says Mark C. Taylor, a professor of religion at Columbia University. Last April, Mr. Taylor published a much-debated New York Times essay in which he called for radically interdisciplinary education. (He suggested that a problem-based major in “Water,” for example, could synthesize knowledge from the humanities, sociology, and the natural sciences.)

“The model of the university that we have today was literally designed by Immanuel Kant,” Mr. Taylor says. “It’s a mass-production model. But technology is allowing us to move toward customized education, which is something completely different.”

The Chronicle also has an interview with Mark Taylor (subscription required).

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