Beyond the Modern University: Toward a Constructive Postmodern University

Beyond the Modern University: Toward a Constructive Postmodern University

Beyond the Modern University: Toward a Constructive Postmodern University

Beyond the Modern University: Toward a Constructive Postmodern University

Synopsis

We are in the midst of an unprecedented, human-caused, environmental crisis. This study asks, "Given the present state of the world, what should be the primary objective of higher education?" The author contends that the modern university should help to make the world a better place by enabling human beings to live more meaningful and satisfying lives and by helping to promote social justice and environmental sustainability.

Excerpt

This history of the university outlined in the first chapter, though broadly accurate, is incomplete. In addition to being very much a part of society, the university has, at times, also been very much removed from society and disdainful of it. The history of the university told in Chapter 1 in terms of the universities in Paris, Halle, and Phoenix emphasizes that aspect of the university that has embodied the interest of the wider society. The University of Berlin was founded for very different reasons. The University of Berlin was established so that a few, intellectually talented individuals could pursue knowledge as a means of spiritual realization. Only a handful of people today openly maintain that this is proper function of higher education, as it is both elitist and not at all useful in terms of making money, and yet the idea of higher education that prompted the founding of the University of Berlin continues to play a major role in higher education today because the modern university continues the tradition that began there, namely, organizing knowledge in terms of academic disciplines.

This chapter, like the previous one, is both historical and critical. Its aim is to explain the origins of academic disciplines and to point to the weaknesses inherent in this way of thinking. The one great advantage associated with academic disciplines is conceptual clarity, but clarity is not synonymous with truth. It is just as possible to be clearly wrong as it is to be clearly correct. The idea that a rational person always acts so as to better himself or herself financially is very clear, but may not be truth. The truth might be substantially more complicated than this. Likewise, the idea that human behavior is strictly determined by antecedent causes is a very clear idea, and it might be

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