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Title:The fox and the hedgehog: Liberal education at the University of Chicago
Author(s):Plath, Paul John
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Violas, Paul C.
Department / Program:Education, History of
Education, Philosophy of
Discipline:Education, History of
Education, Philosophy of
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, History of
Education, Philosophy of
Abstract:The purpose of this dissertation was to produce a case history of the sixty-year struggle over philosophical direction in the conduct of the undergraduate education program at the University of Chicago, spanning the administrations of its two most influential presidents, William Rainey Harper (1891-1906) and Robert Maynard Hutchins (1929-1951).
The story that unfolds reveals the seemingly irreconcilable tensions that took hold at Chicago between those who advocated the classical ideal of liberal education and those who advocated the more modern, pragmatic, and science-driven ideal of specialized education, with its allure of expertise and marketability. Given the highly publicized national debate in recent years over the quality of undergraduate education, it was proposed by the writer that a thorough investigation of the Chicago experience would likely disclose useful parallels and new insights for the edification of our nation's current debate, and beyond.
The melancholy conclusion drawn from this history of Chicago's first sixty years of undergraduate instruction was that the merits of a genuinely liberal education were just as difficult to define and promote then as they are now. The campus constituency for liberal education is small indeed.
In contrast, the manifold benefits promised by a more specialized and career-oriented education in today's modern technological society appear so pleasingly obvious as to require scarcely any mention at all, a huge competitive advantage.
Only through the diligent exertions of liberal education's most committed defenders can knowledge, understanding, and wisdom achieve a status in the public consciousness that will go without saying.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Plath, Paul John
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9010987
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9010987

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