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Searching for Utopia

Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories

Hanna Holborn Gray
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 130
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  • Book Info
    Searching for Utopia
    Book Description:

    InSearching 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 inThe 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95170-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The essays that follow are not intended to offer anything approaching a comprehensive view of the state of higher education today but to reflect on some perennial questions and debates that have accompanied the history of American research universities and that continue to be addressed today. They were presented as the Clark Kerr Lectures on Higher Education at the Berkeley and Davis campuses of the University of California in fall 2009. I had known and admired Clark Kerr as perhaps the most thoughtful and incisive commentator on American higher education in the late twentieth century, and rereading hisThe Uses...

  5. ONE The Uses of the University Revisited
    (pp. 7-30)

    Clark Kerr’sThe Uses of the University, first published in 1963, is still, I think, the best book on American higher education written in the twentieth century. It is a marvel of terseness and clarity that lays bare the complexities and subtleties of a complicated topic. It details with precision and wit the anatomy of the research university as it had come to exist in 1963, and it describes as well the illnesses to which this organism could be prone together with diagnoses and prognoses that might prove useful. And, of course, it indelibly impressed the wordmultiversityas the...

  6. TWO The University Idea and Liberal Learning
    (pp. 31-60)

    This chapter undertakes to examine some of the variations played on the themes of an ideal education and an ideal university over time and to ask how these have affected, and continue to affect, our debates over the structures and purposes of liberal learning in a research university. It is quite surprising to find how often Cardinal Newman’sThe Idea of a Universityis still invoked in writing about higher education. The belief that such an idea should guide the forms and reforms of universities remains seductive even as it would appear challenged by the reality of today’s intensely multitasking...

  7. THREE Uses (and Misuses) of the University Today
    (pp. 61-92)

    Today’s most familiar model of the university remains that of Kerr’s version of the multiversity as it had emerged in the postwar era. That university is essentially the product of the alliance forged between government funding and university research, of the Cold War and the conviction that research and training could strengthen America’s competitive position, of the G.I. Bill and its transforming effects on the college population, of the baby boom, of the economic boom of the 1960s, of the women’s and civil rights movements, of the quickening expansion of knowledge and new technologies, of the impact of globalization and...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 93-96)

    In cataloging the elements (including those of public perception) that seem to me most prominent, and most deep-seated, in the world of universities today, I have probably sounded a note more negative than I intend. For I think the state of our universities in general remains very strong and that the tendency to see all imperfections or problems as inevitably fatal is absurdly excessive. It is obvious, too, that for all the obstacles in the way of legislating or accepting major change, universities have in fact developed greatly and adapted creatively, if not always with a systematic plan and certainly...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 97-112)
    (pp. 113-122)