Book Reviews

Book by George E. Walker, Chris M. Golde, Laura Jones, Andrea Conklin Bueschel, Pat Hutchings
Review by Sarah Keeling
School of Library and Information Science
University of South Carolina


“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten,” – Anthony Robbins. This is the premise of The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century published by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 

The Foundation conducted the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate (CID) and the book contains the findings of the CID. The CID involved 84 Ph.D. programs in six different disciplines. “Over the five years of the program, participating departments made a commitment to examine their own purposes and effectiveness, to implement changes in response to their findings, and to monitor the impact of those changes” (p. 3). The authors argued that change is required in doctoral education in a time when all departments are asked to do more with fewer resources and as programs “face fundamental questions of purpose, vision, and quality” (p. 2).   

In an overview, the authors mentioned four themes found in the book: scholarly formation, integration, intellectual community, and stewardship. Scholarly formation referred to not only the development of skills related to a specific discipline, but also the growth the individual undergoes personally. “What is formed, in short, is the scholar’s professional identity in all its dimensions” (p. 8).  The authors used the term integration to refer to the ability to integrate all aspects of one’s education; to draw connections between coursework, experiential opportunities, teaching, research, etc. “Intellectual community is a condition, indeed the foundation, for the core work of doctoral education: building knowledge” (p. 122). Stewardship referred to the continued improvement and preservation of a discipline. These themes were the framework for this book as it discussed concepts such as how to prepare for change, apprenticeships, and the need for deliberation on educational purposes of programs. 

The authors called “for more purposeful, coordinated, multigenerational forms of mentoring and advising, with greater collective responsibility for the student experience…” and stated that, most importantly, “lasting transformations of doctoral education must be shaped and led by those – faculty, students, and others – who live it every day” (p. 143).

This book would be an extremely useful tool for Graduate Student advisors looking to improve student satisfaction and retention in PhD programs. It provided some specific examples from schools participating in the CID and it gave a good overview of some ways to incorporate changes to improve doctoral education. However, it would benefit from including more specific information regarding what programs did in attempts to change and improve. The lengthy (pp. 161-211) Appendix section gave detailed information about the CID, including participating universities and departments, data analyses from participant surveys, and sample surveys for both students and faculty.


The formation of scholars: Rethinking doctoral education for the twenty-first century. (2008). Book by George E. Walker, Chris M. Golde, Laura Jones, Andrea Conklin Bueschel, Pat Hutchings. Review by Sarah Keeling. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass, 232 pp. $40.00. ISBN # 978-0-470-19743-1
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |