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Askwith Education Forum

The Real World of College

Authors Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner discuss finding the purpose in education in a complex world

What is the purpose of higher education? What are its goals, its promises, and its outcomes — and how have those changed over time, for better or worse? Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner — authors of The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be — talked to more than 2,000 students, parents, young alumni, job recruiters, and college administrators across multiple U.S. institutions. What they learned from students and other stakeholders is often surprising, revealing the larger challenges and dilemmas facing higher education today. 

Join Biddy Martin, the former president of Amherst College and a president-in-residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in conversation with Fischman and Gardner as they lean into their findings about contemporary college life. In community with the Askwith Education Forum audience, they’ll explore possibilities for reconnecting American postsecondary education to its larger intellectual and social mission.


Wendy Fischman
Project Director of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Howard Gardner
Hobbs Research Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education


Biddy Martin
President-in-Residence, Harvard Graduate School of Education; president emeritus, Amherst College


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