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Between Citizens and the State

Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the 20th Century

Christopher P. Loss
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Between Citizens and the State
    Book Description:

    This book tracks the dramatic outcomes of the federal government's growing involvement in higher education between World War I and the 1970s, and the conservative backlash against that involvement from the 1980s onward. Using cutting-edge analysis, Christopher Loss recovers higher education's central importance to the larger social and political history of the United States in the twentieth century, and chronicles its transformation into a key mediating institution between citizens and the state.

    Framed around the three major federal higher education policies of the twentieth century--the 1944 GI Bill, the 1958 National Defense Education Act, and the 1965 Higher Education Act--the book charts the federal government's various efforts to deploy education to ready citizens for the national, bureaucratized, and increasingly global world in which they lived. Loss details the myriad ways in which academic leaders and students shaped, and were shaped by, the state's shifting political agenda as it moved from a preoccupation with economic security during the Great Depression, to national security during World War II and the Cold War, to securing the rights of African Americans, women, and other previously marginalized groups during the 1960s and '70s. Along the way, Loss reappraises the origins of higher education's current-day diversity regime, the growth of identity group politics, and the privatization of citizenship at the close of the twentieth century.

    At a time when people's faith in government and higher education is being sorely tested, this book sheds new light on the close relations between American higher education and politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4005-2
    Subjects: History, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Appendix Charts
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction: The Politics of American Higher Education in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 1-16)

    During the twentieth century, political leaders and university officials turned to one another with increasing frequency in order to build an expansive national state and educational system. They abandoned their shared tradition of laissez-faire relations and forged a powerful partnership that transformed the country’s plural system of colleges and universities into a repository of expertise, a locus for administrative coordination in the federal government, and a mediator of democratic citizenship. Slowly during the interwar period, then rapidly after World War II, the state and higher education joined forces to fight economic depressions and poverty, to wage world wars hot and...

  6. Part I Bureaucracy

    • Chapter 2 Reorganizing Higher Education in the Shadow of the Great War
      (pp. 19-52)

      The story begins in World War I. After Congress answered President Woodrow Wilson’s call for war on Germany in April 1917, the U.S. government extended its reach into the lives of average Americans in ways not seen since the Civil War. The Selective Service System conscripted 2.8 million young men for military duty; the War Industries Board, headed by the indomitable Bernard Baruch, exerted strong-armed federal oversight of American business; and the Committee on Public Information, the government’s official propaganda wing, directed by newspaperman George Creel, whipped up home-front patriotism to lethal levels. In rapid order, the Great War made...

    • Chapter 3 Building the New Deal Administrative State
      (pp. 53-88)

      The reorganization of American higher education in the 1920s was followed by a second period of institutional adjustment during the Great Depression. After more than a decade of distant relations with the federal government following the debacle of World War I, educational elites were forced by the painful realities of the worst financial crisis in U.S. history to chart a new course away from their laissez-faire past. Even professors thought it was time to try a different tack: “The cuts contemplated this year are so cruel and destructive as to threaten seriously our whole educational system,” wrote an anguished professor...

  7. Part II Democracy

    • Chapter 4 Educating Citizen-Soldiers in World War II
      (pp. 91-120)

      The New Deal brought the state and higher education into close contact during the 1930s, but it took World War II to make the partnership stick. The education soldiers received during and after the war altered their lives and the life of the nation. Fear of the psychological maladjustment of G.I.s in the field led top military leaders to approve the use of psychological screening mechanisms that seemed to indicate educated soldiers were superior soldiers. That conclusion brought education to the forefront of state policymaking and set the stage for the creation of a vast state-academic partnership that culminated in...

    • Chapter 5 Educating Global Citizens in the Cold War
      (pp. 121-162)

      InThe Vital Center(1949), Harvard history professor and liberal activist Arthur Schlesinger Jr. predicted the high-stakes global dimensions of the cold war precluded resolution by conventional military means. According to Schlesinger, the combined destructive capacity of the Russian and American militaries ensured that the standoff between “free” and “totalitarian” societies would likely be won nonmilitarily, by the combatant most adept at winning the battle for the “minds and hearts of men.” As the principal national institution responsible for shaping citizens’ hearts and minds during the cold war, American higher education served as a vital mediating institution between citizens and...

  8. Part III Diversity

    • Chapter 6 Higher Education Confronts the Rights Revolution
      (pp. 165-213)

      By 1960, California embodied the future of American higher education, and Clark Kerr, the balding, bespectacled president of the University of California, embodied California’s approach. In that year Kerr achieved international acclaim as designer of the Master Plan, which readjusted California’s system of universities, and state and junior colleges. Hailed a technocratic triumph, the California system’s new mission was to readjust millions of students. Using high school grade point averages (and soon, the SAT) to determine admission, and by charging no tuition, only fees, the Master Plan guaranteed all Californians a shot at higher education. Like the NDEA and the...

    • Chapter 7 Conclusion: The Private Marketplace of Identity in an Age of Diversity
      (pp. 214-234)

      By the mid-1970s, the state’s four-decade-long citizenship education project had come full circle. As this book has chronicled, beginning in the Great Depression, the state played an active if obscured role supporting higher education and extending its reach deeper into the life of the people than ever before. After World War II the state’s involvement became much more visible. The enactment of groundbreaking federal legislation revolutionized college going in the United States. The G.I. Bill, the National Defense Education Act, and the Higher Education Act expanded educational opportunity to increasing numbers of Americans—to veterans, to students in defense-related fields...

  9. Appendix: A Graphical Portrait of American Higher Education in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 235-238)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 239-302)
  11. Index
    (pp. 303-320)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-324)