Degrees of Dignity: Arab Higher Education in the Global Era
Published: December 2021© 2022
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 264 Pages
Illustrations: 8 b&w figures, 9 b&w tables
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
Presenting an analysis of higher education in eight countries in the Arab Middle East and North Africa, Degrees of Dignity works to dismantle narratives of crisis and assert approaches to institutional reform. Drawing on policy documents, media narratives, interviews, and personal experiences, Elizabeth Buckner explores how apolitical external reform models become contested and modified by local actors in ways that are simultaneously complicated, surprising, and even inspiring.
Degrees of Dignity documents how the global discourses of neoliberalism have legitimized specific policy models for higher education reform in the Arab world, including quality assurance, privatization, and internationalization. Through a multi-level and comparative analysis, this book examines how policy models are implemented, with often complex results, in countries throughout the region.
Ultimately, Degrees of Dignity calls on the field of higher education development to rethink current approaches to higher education reform: rather than viewing the Arab world as a site for intervention, it argues that the Arab world can act as a source for insight on resilient higher education systems.
List of Tables and Figures
1. The University and the Arab World
2. Sorting Students, Determining Fates
3. The Question of Quality
4. Privatizing the Public Good
5. Internationalizing the National University
6. Between Knowledge and Truth
Conclusion: Rethinking Higher Education and Development
"Degrees of Dignity is a tour de force of a work on higher education in the Arab world. This book paints both a nuanced and sympathetic portrait of higher education, while Elizabeth Buckner’s attention to detail makes this a most engaging volume. I highly recommend it for policy makers and academics."Natasha Ridge, Executive Director, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research
"Based on over fifteen years’ experience in several Arab countries, Degrees of Dignity provides an excellent overview of the educational challenges currently facing the Arab world. Elizabeth Buckner concludes that there is a lot that is going right in that domain while cautioning that western models, emerging from neo-liberal assumptions, are part of the problem rather than the solution. Buckner convincingly argues that other systems have much to learn from their Arab peers."John Waterbury, Former President, American University of Beirut
"Degrees of Dignity demonstrates how higher education has evolved in the Arab world and how the relation between government policy and public expectations has become inevitably dysfunctional. Elizabeth Buckner argues that the rhetoric of ‘failure’ and ‘crisis’ perpetuate the problems in higher education, rather than resolve them, and ends up undermining positive trends."Shana Cohen, Affiliated Lecturer of Sociology, University of Cambridge and Director, Think Tank for Action on Social Change