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Risk-Taking in Higher Education

The Importance of Negotiating Intellectual Challenge in the College Classroom

Ryan Kelty and Bridget A. Bunten

Risk-taking is foundational to the structure and goals of higher education. Encouraging students to consider new, diverse, even uncomfortable ideas is needed to develop a critically informed view of the world and establish one’s own values and beliefs. Yet, students and parents are increasingly averse to risk-taking in higher education; a shift evidenced by calls for colleges and universities to provide an education that shelters students from diverse and potentially controversial ideas and topics. This tension over the necessary role of risk-taking in higher education represents a critical moment for American education.
This volume includes authors from numerous academic disciplines to emphasize both the importance of risk-taking across higher education and to highlight the varied approaches to incorporate risk-taking into classroom practices. The authors’ collective works in this volume reaffirm the critical need to reject intellectual coddling and commodification in the college classroom, and to promote intellectual risk-taking as an essential aspect of higher education. Sustained, systematic emphasis on risk-taking in higher education is key to promoting innovation, critical thinking, life-long learning, and moral-ethical development.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 190Size: 6 3/8 x 9 3/8
978-1-4758-3248-8 • Hardback • March 2017 • $68.00 • (£47.95)
978-1-4758-3249-5 • Paperback • March 2017 • $34.00 • (£23.95)
978-1-4758-3250-1 • eBook • March 2017 • $33.99 • (£23.95)
Ryan Kelty is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. He earned his B.A. from Middlebury College and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

Bridget A. Bunten is Associate Professor and Chair of Education and Coordinator of the Elementary Education Program at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. She earned her B.A. from Gettysburg College, her M.A. from UMass Boston and her Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University.
Introduction: The Importance and Challenge of Risk-Taking in Higher Education
Ryan Kelty and Bridget A. Bunten


Chapter 1: Flipping the Risk-Reward Associated with Flipped Classrooms
Sarah Raley and Gretchen Kreahling McKay

Chapter 2: The Importance of Risk-Taking to Moral-Ethical Character Development
Arthur Gibb, III

Chapter 3: Falling Through the Looking Glass: Personalizing Privilege to Foster Understanding of the Social Nature of Stratification
Ryan Kelty and Bridget A. Bunten

Chapter 4: The Consciousness Raising Classroom: Lessons in Inequality and Identity
Jessica Santos, Rachel Steele, and Callie Watkins Liu


Chapter 5: Interventions
Benjamin Zellmer Bellas

Chapter 6: Disability and Activism in the Engaged Classroom
Julianne Guillard


Chapter 7: From Comfort to Confidence: Modeling Science as a Process of Risk-Taking in the Classroom
Aaron R. Krochmal and Timothy C. Roth, II

Chapter 8: Risk-Taking in Engineering Instruction (United State Air Force Academy)
Kimberly Kays, Andrew Hoisington, John Christ, Don Rhymer, Dan Jensen, and Cory Cooper

Chapter 9: Risk-Taking in Medical Education, Training, and the Practice of Medicine
Bala Ambati

Conclusion: The Risk-Taking Imperative
Ryan Kelty and Bridget A. Bunten

About the Editors

About the Contributors

Opinions abound as to what ails higher education and the way to improve our colleges and universities. This volume begins from the perspective that intellectual risk-taking is central to a transformational education, and should be a central value, not just an added benefit, to an educational experience which can all too often be motivated by performance metrics alone. Authored by those on the front lines of today's college classrooms, the essays in these pages demonstrate that the most effective change will happen classroom-by-classroom, professor-by-professor, student-by-student. As a result, citizens working for the public good, and not just credentialed individuals, will graduate from our campuses. And if we, too, take the risks encouraged in these pages, our students will be energetic, resilient, and thoughtful throughout their creative lives.
Laurie L. Patton, President, Middlebury College

The strengths of this volume are its practicality, interdisciplinary scope, timeliness, and frankly, its breakthrough spirit on what to do rather than what not to do. Kelty and Bunten's argument to emphasize risk-taking in higher education challenges students and professors to be their best selves, reclaiming higher education as a place to grapple with the myriad challenges of the human condition. New and seasoned professors and administrators alike - indeed anyone interested in higher education - will find inspiration in this volume.
Morten Ender, Professor of Sociology, West Point

This is a timely, provocative, and much needed book. In an atmosphere of heightened sensitivities, polarized politics, outcomes assessment, and litigiousness, faculty may fear at risk but discouraged to take risks. But teaching is not following a recipe; it requires risks. The articles in this volume explore the intellectual, social, and pedagogical risk-taking that creative teaching requires. It celebrates the adventure of teaching that makes learning vital for students.
Daniel R. DeNicola, Professor of Philosophy at Gettysburg College, Author of Learning to Flourish: A Philosophical Exploration of Liberal Education