The Crisis in the University

The Crisis in the University

The Crisis in the University

The Crisis in the University

Excerpt

'No one,' wrote Thomas Arnold, 'ought to meddle with the universities, who does not know them well and love them well.' This principle should be regarded as axiomatic. But academic patriotism, however devoted and well-informed, does not exclude, but rather impels, a clear recognition and searching diagnosis of ailments. This book is the product of a conviction that much ails universities to-day, that what is wrong with them is closely connected with what is wrong with the whole world; and that the chief seat of the malady is to be found in the underlying assumptions, largely unconscious, by which their life and work are determined. The older universities grew up in a world very unlike our own. Their traditional assumptions are, to some extent, outdated and, in practice, discarded. But there is no agreed answer to the question how far this process should go and what alternative assumptions should take the place of the old. Concerning the raison d'être of universities, and the standards to which they should pay allegiance and by which their policies must ultimately be judged, there is some discord and a great deal of vagueness.

Yet, during the last ten years, these questions have been discussed in a number of books and from a number of angles. 'Mr. Bruce Truscot,' in particular, has vigorously stimulated thought by his lively Redbrick University and its sequel. His special concern is to recall universities to one strain in academic tradition, that which lays its main emphasis on investigation and the advancement of scholarship. Another strain is emphasized by the admirable Harvard Report, General Education in a Free Society. Here the most urgent question is, How are universities in a democratic and industrial society to implant a wide culture, such as the older among them once imparted through the medium of the Classics? Yet a third section, probably the most forceful and influential, is frankly modernist. For it, the sensational triumph of applied . . .

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