Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories

Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories

Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories

Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories

Synopsis

In Searching for Utopia, Hanna Holborn Gray reflects on the nature of the university from the perspective of today's research institutions. In particular, she examines the ideas of former University of California president Clark Kerr as expressed in The Uses of the University, written during the tumultuous 1960s. She contrasts Kerr's vision of the research-driven "multiveristy" with the traditional liberal educational philosophy espoused by Kerr's contemporary, former University of Chicago president Robert Maynard Hutchins. Gray's insightful analysis shows that both Kerr, widely considered a realist, and Hutchins, seen as an oppositional idealist, were utopians. She then surveys the liberal arts tradition and the current state of liberal learning in the undergraduate curriculum within research universities. As Gray reflects on major trends and debates since the 1960s, she illuminates the continuum of utopian thinking about higher education over time, revealing how it applies even in today's climate of challenge.

Excerpt

The lectures assembled in this volume were presented as the Clark Kerr Lectures on Higher Education at the University of California in fall 2009. I am grateful to all who made my visit to Berkeley so interesting and rewarding, and above all to Judson King, director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education. I should like also to acknowledge my indebtedness to William G. Bowen, Mary Patterson McPherson, and Judith Shapiro for their helpful comments; to Charles M. Gray for innumerable and always enlightening discussions; and to the readers for the University of California Press for their suggestions.

At several points, I have drawn closely on some of my earlier essays. in chapter 2, the discussion of Eliot, Harper, and Wilson follows in part from “The Leaning Tower of Academe,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 49 (1996): 34–54; and that of the desirability of requiring courses in Western civilization from “Western Civilization and Its Discontents,” Historically . . .

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