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Guest Thinkers

The Idea of the American University

Three books showed up this week with chapters by ME in them.  Even without those chapters, each would still be a fabulous (although somewhat diminished) book.  So as not to test your patience, I will feature them one at a time.

Bradley C. S. Watson edited The Idea of the American UniversityHere are some tastes:

1.  James P. Schall, S.J.:  “The professor was [used to be] more than a specialist.  This is why the university…was concerned with something more, with wisdom, with something that could not be acquired except through long reflection.  It seems quite clear [today] that students can matriculate in universities and learn nothing of what is important about God, cosmos, life, death, and what it all means.”

2. Marc C. Henrie: As a result of “the multicultural transformation of the curriculum”…we…are presented with the spectacle of many students today who habitually associate high ideals, penetrating insight, and profound wisdom with just about every culture but their own.”

3. Gary D. Glenn: “When teaching a class on political philosophy, I spoke one day of the soul. A graudate student…looked puzzled and said he did not know what it meant, and asked what ‘the modern word’ for that would be.”

4. Peter Wood:  “To this day, American higher education continues to live in this Berkeley-invented mirror universe where ‘academic freedom’ is routinely invoked to justify excluding views from campus.  The result is ideological conformity–and yet another diminution of the institutional diversity on which American education once prided itself.”

5. Susan E. Hanssen: “The proliferation of independent schools and indeed the growing popularity of home-schooling is the most American feature of our panorama of education today; the continued attachment to classical liberal education is the most distinctively American contribution to the varieties of higher education available today.”

I’ll share more tastes later.  But you can already see the variety of conservative perspectives in defense of liberal education, of a university actually devoted to ideas.


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