In recent decades, cognitive psychologists have cast new light on human development and given colleges new possibilities for helping students acquire skills and qualities that will enhance their lives and increase their contributions to society. In this landmark book, Derek Bok explores how colleges can reap the benefits of these discoveries and create a more robust undergraduate curriculum for the twenty-first century.
Prior to this century, most psychologists thought that creativity, empathy, resilience, conscientiousness, and most personality traits were largely fixed by early childhood. What researchers have now discovered is that virtually all of these qualities continue to change through early adulthood and often well beyond. Such findings suggest that educators may be able to do much more than was previously thought possible to teach students to develop these important characteristics and thereby enable them to flourish in later life.
How prepared are educators to cultivate these qualities of mind and behavior? What do they need to learn to capitalize on the possibilities? Will college faculties embrace these opportunities and make the necessary changes in their curricula and teaching methods? What can be done to hasten the process of innovation and application? In providing answers to these questions, Bok identifies the hurdles to institutional change, proposes sensible reforms, and demonstrates how our colleges can help students lead more successful, productive, and meaningful lives.