The Sacred and the Secular University

By Jon H. Roberts; James Turner | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
JOHN F. WILSON

THIS VOLUME focuses on a particular period of American history, essentially the decades between the Civil War and World War I. And it concerns two broad subject areas central to the development of higher education in the course of these decades. The book starts from a simple observation that modern American universities began to take shape during this era, thus effectively differentiating from antebellum colleges (institutions from which a number actually descended). Several elements in this transition are well known and broadly acknowledged. The more important of them include (but are not limited to) (1) the founding and growth of additional public universities (landgrant institutions) especially by means of resources made available through the Morrill Act (1862), (2) the influence of European ideals of scholarly inquiry transmitted through increased numbers of American students who returned from courses of study in European institutions (primarily German), and (3) the refinement of scientific procedures as an increasingly powerful approach to knowledge, especially in its role as an engine for exploring the natural world (but not altogether excluding society as a subject). Of course, additional factors, some specific to higher education, some more generally present in the society, also affected this development of the modern American university. Among them we should especially note the expansion of technology and industry, the increasing utilization of state and eventually federal legal systems, and a growing perception of the need for effective government. All of these factors, along with others as well, played significant roles in remaking higher education during these decades.

While at the conclusion of the Civil War the nation's colleges largely continued along the lines of their prewar organization, by the end of the century the configuration of higher education had dramatically changed. A few universities were explicitly founded to embody the new style (the best example and limiting case being Johns Hopkins), while others, like Harvard, developed from earlier colleges. Additional public universities had begun to take shape, especially in the states more recently admitted to the union. Possibly most important, formal disciplines were consciously organized, an innovation that would produce the familiar departmental structure of faculties (like economics and history as well as literary studies). Although numerous reformers and/or visionaries played

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The Sacred and the Secular University
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • The Sacred and the Secular University *
  • Introduction 3
  • Part One - The Sciences 17
  • Chapter One - Religion, Science, and Higher Education 19
  • Chapter Two - The Emergence of the Human Sciences 43
  • Chapter Three - Knowledge and Inquiry in the Ascendant 61
  • Part Two - The Humanities 73
  • Chapter Four - The Triumph of the Humanities 75
  • Chapter Five - The Boon and Bane of Specialization 83
  • Chapter Six - Two Ideals of Knowledge 95
  • Chapter Seven - For and against Secularization 107
  • Notes 123
  • Index 177
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