The Design of the University: German, American, and 'World Class'

Routledge, New York and London


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What is the reason for the American university’s global preeminence? How did the American university succeed where the development of the German university, of which it learned so much, stalled? What can those who like to see their universities achieve "world class" status learn from the American model?—In this closely argued book Heinz-Dieter Meyer suggests that the key to the American university’s success is its institutional design of self-government. Where other university systems are dependent on the patronage of state, church, or market, the American university is the first to achieve true autonomy--and it has done so not by insulating itself against the world, but through an intricate system of engagements with societal actors and institutions that simultaneously act as amplifiers of its impact and as checks on the university’s ever-present corrosive tendencies.
Built on a searching analysis of the design thinking of Wilhelm von Humboldt and Adam Smith (whose pioneering work on academic design has to date been largely neglected), and closely tracing the learning process by which Americans adapted the German model, the book is an antidote to facile (and most certainly futile) efforts to copy superficial features of the American university in efforts to achieve world class rank, as well as an argument to pay close attention to the design detail of the university and the particulars of its institutional environment, especially the institutions of the civil society. The book closes on a cautionary note that the conditions of the American university’s success are currently at risk.

(My publication)Posted:Aug 01 2017, 12:00 AM by
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