Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

George A. Kizer

Second Advisor

David B. Owen


Eight documents written between 1983 to 1988, and selected as representative of the higher education reform movement of that period, are analyzed for economic reductionism. These eight documents are Involved in Learning, Integrity in the College Curriculum, In the National Interest, 'To Secure the Blessings of Liberty', Tomorrow's Teachers, One Third of a Nation, America's Competitive Challenge, and A Nation Prepared. Economic reductionism is defined as a hierarchical thought process that diminishes the importance of other values for the believed superiority of national prosperity. To place the 1983-1988 higher education reform movement in historical context, research is presented on the terminology used in earlier periods of American higher education reform. By analyzing three selected reports covering 1828, 1930 and 1958, the historical literature of higher education reform is shown to have emphasized knowledge and individual self-fulfillment. During the period under study the language is characterized by defining the individual as an economic input enhanced by receiving higher levels of education. The goals for education as expressed in the eight documents are devoid of moral, humanistic or intellectual values. Self-interest of the study groups or blue ribbon commissions guide the thinking of access to education for minorities. The minority populations' right to education is based on the need for their incorporation in the middle and upper-middle classes of the economic sphere to sustain Social Security for the growing retired population. Market competitiveness, national prosperity and military needs are the key concepts in the education reform language of the period under study.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Lorna Peterson



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File Size

186 pages