William Deresiewicz: Excellent Sheep, Revisited

This is an Archive of a Past Event

William Deresiewicz will discuss his forthcoming book, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. As a professor at Yale, Deresiewicz saw something that troubled him deeply. His students, some of the nation’s brightest minds, were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively, and how to find a sense of purpose. In Excellent Sheep, Deresiewicz argues that students are world-class hoop jumpers, meritocratic machines whose capacity to think independently and innovatively has diminished as schools shift focus from the humanities to “practical” subjects like economics and computer science.

Deresiewicz will be in discussion with Professor Rob Reich, Faculty Director of the Program on Ethics in Society.


William Deresiewicz was associate professor of English at Yale until 2008. He is the author of the essays "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education" and "Solitude and Leadership," both widely read and studied, and is a frequent speaker on college campuses. A three-time National Magazine Award nominee, he won the National Book Critics Circle's Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing for 2012 and the Hiett Prize in the Humanities in 2013.

Rob Reich is Associate Professor of Political Science and, by courtesy, in Philosophy and at the School of Education. He is a faculty Co-Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and the Director of the Program in Ethics in Society. His main interests are in political theory and he is currently completing a book on ethics, public policy, and philanthropy. He is the author of "Bridging Liberalism and Multiculturalism in American Education," co-author of "Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation," and co-editor of "Toward a Humanist Justice: The Political Philosophy of Susan Moller Okin."  Reich is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the Phi Beta Kappa Undergraduate Teaching Award and the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford University.