Philosophy of Education

This  8-week course began March 11, 2014. The instructor for SOC/721 was Tara McNealey, Ph.D.

Course Description

Learners will undertake research into the intertwined aspects of social and political constructs as they impact ethical decision-making in higher education. Stakeholders, economics, political agendas, beliefs, values, cultures, and spirituality will be examined within a framework of ethical theories of problem-solving and resolution strategies. Learners will conclude the course by designing a 21st century higher education institution based on social, political, and ethical constructs.

Course Competencies

  • Analyze the social aspects and stakeholders of campus, surrounding, regional, state or national and global communities of higher education.
  • Evaluate the impact of political aspects of campus, city, state or nation, and global communities of higher education.
  • Integrate ethical and spiritual components of social and political contexts into the decision-making processes within higher education.
  • Evaluate the application of social, political, and ethical concepts within higher education situations across a variety of cultures and constituencies.
  • Correlate multiple social and cultural theories to explain social influences on, and social behavior in various higher education environments.

The first two weeks of most doctoral programs are devoted to reading. After that, each week has a topic and the assignments reflect the topic as well as relate to parts of the reading. The reading list for this course is listed at the bottom under references. Note that in addition to the required texts, there were a number of journal articles that were also required reading for each week.

  1. Reading Week
  2. Reading Week
  3. Social Aspects of Higher Education and Their Application
  4. Stakeholders and Their Influence
  5. Political Aspects of Higher Education and Their Application
  6. Ethical Aspects, Spiritual Aspects, and Cultural Aspects and Their Application
  7. Application of Social, Political, and Ethical Theory in Higher Education
  8. Application of Social, Political, and Ethical Theory in Higher Education Across Cultures in the Global Community


There were a number of assignments that required time and effort. However, I am just focusing on the papers. They  were as follows:

  • Week 3: Select three higher education institutions from the Social Aspects of Higher Education Institutions handout. Write a 1,750 to 2,100-word paper analyzing the social values by which each institution functions. Consider the mission statement, local community, demographics, likely stakeholder influences, and cultural milieu of each institution. Conclude the assignment by comparing and contrasting these characteristics among the selected institutions. Using the handout I selected Jagiellonian University (an international research university located in Krakow, Poland), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (a 4-year public university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S. and believed to be the nation’s first public university), and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (a 2-year community college and tribal college located in Cloquet, Minnesota, U.S.). I earned 15/15 on this paper.
  • Week 4: Write a 1,750 to 2,100 word paper analyzing the social influence of stakeholders on the institution of choice in multiple functional areas using your research findings and interview results. Discuss how stakeholders can be integrated into the decision-making process in higher education institutions. I identified and discussed stakeholders at Taft College in Taft, California. I earned 14.9/15 on this paper.
  • Week 5: Select a state or nation in which you reside or would like to learn more about for this assignment. Write a 1,050 to 1,400 word paper addressing the following: a) Analyze the state or nation’s higher education policies, b) Describe how the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, or the most recent national educational act, affected the higher education institutions within the state or nation, c) Analyze the impact of these policies on public and private education in that state or nation, and d) Conclude with recommendations for future development of higher education in the selected state or nation based on the existing status. I wrote about higher education in the state of Idaho. I earned 14.9/15 on this paper.
  • Week 6: No paper this week. Instead we had time to research for the final two papers in weeks 7 & 8.
  • Week 7: Use the international higher education institution you selected in your week 3 assignment to complete the week 7 assignment. Write a 1,750 to 2,100 word paper on the social, political, and ethical aspects of higher education in the country you have chosen, based on data from the institution you selected. Discuss the institution’s values and mission. Address the following: a) In what specific ways do politics, social values, culture, and ethics emerge in the programs and community endeavors of the institution?, and b) How does the institution communicate the social, political, and ethical premises to the local community? I wrote about higher education in Poland. I earned 14.9/15 on this paper.
  • Week 8: Determine whether the United States should institute the European Bologna Process to replace regional accreditation in higher education. Select one of the following positions: a) Support the replacement of regional accreditation with the European Bologna Process, or b) Defend the current status of regional accreditation in the United States. Provide an argument to defend your position. Include considerations in social, political, and ethical domains. Defend your position in 1,750 to 2,150 words. After much research I learned a  lot about the European Bologna Process. While I believe it is a good thing in Europe, I defended the U.S. status of regional accreditation. I was quite proud of the analysis I wrote for this paper but again I earned 14.9/15.


One important challenge I faced was my ignorance about higher education in other countries. I had never spent time or energy to learn about higher education in other countries. This involved quite a bit of research. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn more about the Bologna Process in Europe and the accreditation process in the U.S. I would like to learn more. One of my peers is currently going through the accreditation process at his university in Texas. I think that is a great opportunity to learn more firsthand.


Due to the challenges I encountered, I learned much about higher eduction, politics, and culture in a foreign country. Additionally, in reading the McDonald (2002) text (see below) I am narrowing my dissertation topic even more. McDonald (2002) talks about the importance of establishing community in higher education. I would like to continue to research the idea of establishing community in online courses in an attempt to have more students successfully complete online courses.

I successfully completed the course with 99.6 out of 100. I earned an A and 3 credits. So I have now completed 13 units and have 52 more to go.

Required Reading

Bolman, L. G. & Gallos, J. V. (2011). Reframing academic leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Chickering, A. W., Dalton, J. C., & Stamm, L. (2006). Encouraging authenticity & spirituality in higher education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Gumport, P. J. (Ed.). (2007). Sociology of higher education: Contributions and their contexts. Baltimore, MD. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Johnstone, S. M. & WCET Associates. (2007). Advancing campus efficiencies: A companion for campus leaders in the digital era. Boston, MA: Anker.

Kezar, A. J., Chambers, A. C., Burkhardt, J. C. & Associates. (2005). Higher education for the public good: Emerging voices from a national movement. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lovell, C. D., Larson, T. E., Dean, D. R., & Longanecker, D. L. ( 2010). Public policy and higher education (2nd ed). Pearson Learning Solutions.

McDonald, W. M. & Associates. (2002). Creating campus community: In search of Ernest Boyer’s legacy. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Walton, A. & Gasman, M. (Eds.). (2008) Philanthropy, volunteerism and fundraising in higher education. Boston, MA: Pearson.


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