06 September 2009

University, Church, Society

In today's NYT Book Review, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust writes that the American university must become more of an incubator for ideas and ideals, and less an instrument in the service of the market, if it is to have any future at all. She casts an inspiring vision for what the academy can contribute to society.

Interestingly, the "transcendent" parts of the university's vocation seem so similar to what was once expected of the Protestant church in this country. I wonder whether the disestablishment of mainline Protestantism in the postwar period, and the separation of churches from the eminent universities they founded, has left us with neither churches nor universities capable of "rais[ing] the deep and unsettling questions necessary to any society."

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