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Gateway to ideas. The. Gateway to ideas. A new series of conversations in which ideas are discussed in relation to reading. Today's program. The shifting role of the university is moderated by Dr. Harold Taylor educator and author. I'd like to introduce Professor Charles Frankel from the Flies to be part of Columbia University who is a distinguished teacher and philosopher who has written widely in the field of American education. And Professor Daniel Bell the Department of Sociology of Columbia University whose work in the general area of sociology and philosophical sociology if you'll pardon that expression that has made a great difference in the philosophical and social thinking in
America. The subject of the shifting role of the university assumes two things First that there is a role for the university and second that it's shifting and it might be useful that was that was a kind of triangular relationship among three people who write quite a lot about these issues. As Jack Byers and promised at Columbia University whose house of intellect argues for a detachment of the university from the major areas of social concern Clark Kerr whose uses of the University argues for a multiple purpose institution which serves the needs of government of society of the students of the faculty of everyone connected with it. And Paul Goodman his community of scholars argues for a return to the many evil conception of AI and intergroup community where everybody knows everyone else and where you pay attention. To students as individuals and teach them in a kind of master apprentice relationship he's against most of the things which Mr.
Barzan and Mr. Kerr for Howard I'd like to reframe that perhaps in some historic perspective maybe locating the three persons you name. Surely there's a role Thingiverse there's always been the university traditionally is the place which you transmit the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of the ages the students will then carry it forward. I would say that one can define arbitrarily perhaps three different types of universities which are sense congregant with three different types of historical stages. One might be called the traditional university which perhaps Barzan to some extent represents the transition which is essentially the idea that universally deals with scholarship tries to create cultivation deals primarily with the wisdom of the past and transmits it. There is a second phase which perhaps represented either by Kerr or by Barzan which might be called Industrial Society which the university has a very practical Tarion role which is exemplified in part by the creation of graduate schools engineering schools business schools which you provide services to the society by training people for professional roles. I would say there's a
third phase which current perhaps anticipates what I'd call the post industrial society. In which the university curiously enough and this is perhaps a rather sweeping claim. University begins to take over the fundamental role of the business from the 1900s. Namely it becomes the innovative agency in society and becomes the innovative agency primarily because the heavy emphasis today on research not just scholarship alone but practical research research type of science research type social science and it's located in university for two reasons One is that the kinds of course that are generated in research are huge it can be borne only by public agencies and at universities the place where this interested research can be done. This doesn't mean university itself as a single university quite often is a consortium you have for example the extraordinary growth of new types of institutions the last 20 years where you have example Brookhaven a laboratory built by the government the Atomic Energy Commission managed by consort of universities. Now at Brookhaven For example several colleagues of ours Leon Letterman and Melvin Schwartz have done experiments on splitting the neutrino. A single experiment cost a million dollars. So this isn't something which is borne by private enterprise can be
even should be. It's located in university as part of the advance of knowledge of the innovative role this is true in social sciences as well. So that here it seems to me the whole emphasis on the research role which has to join into the traditional role of transmitting knowledge creates the new problem. University How do you become an innovative institution at the same time as your conserving institution. The government paradigm it seems to me is somewhat outside of this it would apply more to a college which is somewhat different from university I think the distinction is necessary. The university embrace the wide variety of activities that are involved in research application research transmission of knowledge concept conservation of knowledge the goodman model seems to me is more directly apical to a college itself and may be more useful. It seems to me if it's located primarily on the level of a college rather than university itself Carol I would I think be a little less gentle with the goodman model. I think that good man's essential point. About the experience of students in a college is a sound one that they come they are growing up and that the
function of the college far as they're concerned is to provide an environment in which they can grow up the relationship required for this is a master apprentice relationship. All of this I would accept but I don't believe it's possible to draw too sharp a line between the college and the university I do think that the objectives of teaching in a college and the objectives of student in a college cannot be subsumed simply under advanced research and that in fact one ought to have quite different curriculum. On the other side however the function of a college is ultimately to introduce students to the world of art and science not simply in terms of the. The received tradition but the arts in the sciences as a continuing activities are present. From this point of view the best colleges are very closely related to universities that does not mean every college has to have its own university campus but if you look around
the American landscape I think you will see that most of the reputable small colleges and we have many many universities all but they are within reach of university libraries and their professors are in touch with university people in the area. Their students have certain universities in mind and in fact go to these universities going against the whole series of calls like Williams Amherst. No I think I'm not really located in universities. Well I guess this is precisely my point I think he won't get old. Well take the read swats mobile in type and look at where they are students go. You find that they are in fact for the most part prepared our agencies for the major universities of the country. Their faculties have their roots in the major universities while they are physically separate from these universities. You kind of understand the distinction of such places unless you see them as part of university systems. Amherst and Willie and Williams are perfectly good examples too. They are very much within the orbit of the North Eastern University belt I think if you look
at this. Sociologically in terms of people terms of administration terms of where people are going or what the reference groups are. Amherst and Williams are off campus. Ivy League college is part of the great Ivy League university system. Well this is one of the things that worries me Charles very very much about the shifting role of the university. I think Dan's emphasis on the development of the university as a social innovator and as a center for the knowledge industry is correctly placed. And the trouble is that if you think of the colleges as feeders for this knowledge factory you run straight into the problem of what to do with students on the major university campuses. And then what you do in a place like Amherst where you're cranking out perhaps prepared students to go to graduate school which then destroys many of the reasons why the colleges themselves were formed and makes them into academic factories in a small way preparing people to get into the factory where knowledge is ground.
Well I've never been able to understand why there is an inherent or inevitable conflict between the distinctive purposes of college education and preparation for Advanced Study. It doesn't seem to me there is any disconnection here. The first great professors at Amherst or Williams are themselves either contributors or they intend to contribute to the pursuit of knowledge they are themselves members of what we're calling rather pejoratively the knowledge factory. The fact that so many of these students are aiming towards graduate or professional work doesn't seem to me to mean that they can't have a college education. Well that in fact it does mean that Charles when you look at. Content of the curriculum it is designed now as an introductory set of steps toward graduate work in given fields rather than as an involvement of the student in a whole variety of intellectual activities only some of which are demanded by further work in academic I'm not sure you know that.
I'm not sure that's really true and to some extent I would say enough hard enough isn't done that maybe put me in an odd light but let me illustrate what I mean. I think if one accepts the proposition that the grounds of knowledge are shifting very radically then the emphasis as we all accept moves from the teaching subject matter to teaching ways of handling problems in a sense if you want to put it in simple jargon conceptualization. Now this I think one can avoid the sterile problem of content and method but I think both of you can teach. Content unless you make people aware and self-conscious of the grounds which they know things I would say perhaps again perhaps too schematically. There's a simple distinction between secondary schools a college and graduate schools the secondary schools are essentially places where dealing with factual items or the emphasis is primarily factual with some degree of self-conscious about conceptualization. But the main emphasis in the college curriculum seems to me has to be increasingly today on grounds of knowledge. How do you know what you know. What's the basis of knowing that you know is valid and reliable. And it's only this based you have a sufficient flexibility and variety of mind which is built in to handle changing content or
graduate school deals then with the concrete application to problems. Unless a student has that kind of flexibility it might be able reconceptualize problem is lost. Then he becomes a member of a factory in a very real sense it becomes a handy noise floor and is a specific skill which comes very quickly obsolescence. Yes and I would say you know graduate schools are serving the kind of function the Dan describes are very inaccurately described as knowledge factories there's a kind of. Of mass production suggestion about this which isn't necessarily true there is a problem to which I hope will return which is what do you do about students. And where do they fit. But I would think that a good college education as part of preparing people for advanced work should certainly include general education should certainly cover a variety of fields other than those in which they intend to specialize. Should give them enough chance to find themselves intellectually and to some extent emotionally. All of these things can be done in college while at the same time students are introduced seriously to discipline. Well yeah well I guess my point is I visit 30 or 40 colleges and
universities each year talking with students seeing what they're doing in them and I find they aren't doing that there are getting people ready to go on to do further academic work which is something quite different from educating them and many of the research professors in the major institutions are not teaching except perfunctorily are not taking the kind of role you described for colleges seriously in the undergraduate case. I think that is true too. I said merely There was no inherent cause you don't like. But you know that there are. Yes yes. Well I wonder if we could chase down. The problem you suggest then which is raised by the shifted role of the university. If it is a social innovator it is serving a multi purpose or relationship to society. And what then does happen to the former role of the student as a central concern for the persons who are in the university. Isn't this what troubles and Berkeley have as a rule.
Well it seems to me one would have to make the basic distinction between again and college even locating the university and the graduate school because there are many very different notions that are at stake because seems to me the college problem is quite different to graduate school problem is attempting to assimilate the two of them in terms of this notion of alienation bureaucracy nation and such. I would argue picking up a sort of word of Charles before that part of the problem is that the colleges themselves don't sufficiently teach or concert and disciplines by discipline I simply mean in any particular field a coherent body of concepts and theoretical perspectives which allow you to apply to subject matter economics a discipline international trade as a subject matter sociology as a discipline. Race relations the subject matter when these things get confused. I think part of the confusion arose in part from the emphasis on general education here I would say I believe strong in general education. I think to some extent they have such an education been wrongly put. I think it's been wrongly put in the sense that people usually start out with a notion of gentle education with the idea of giving people a grounding of knowledge a survey of knowledge. I would
assume here as part of a notion I've had about come to college I'm involved with now in terms of a study I've done for the Carnegie Corporation on Columbia College namely putting general education in the last year of a college in which you had students who've had a training in a discipline and then ask them to apply it to broader problems which have moral implications relevance and across different disciplines. You can take for example city planning as a broader area which involve economic knowledge sociological knowledge value choices. And here you exemplify both disciplines and more problems at a senior here which forces students to stop specializing in that particular point and stop and take a broader view. She says nothing intrinsically wrong between a discipline and general education if they're used well together. The real problem is a very real one we've had this economy a college which is that many students begin to specialize very early or they get into a narrow narrow funnel and they moved quickly into graduate school. The college itself has now taken a step to try to stop that by limiting the number of points a student can take in a single field. In this respect an effort to try to stop this narrow narrow specialization.
I think it requires more than that requires a general reorientation of a college and a rethinking of the relation of a discipline to general education. This then puts the college a very different kind of focus than the graduate school where the problem is really one of their professional training acquisition of research techniques inventing field of knowledge from peers and knowledge and such. Yes well I couldn't agree more I think that is really the heart of the issue as to whether a course in general education should come at the end of the beginning that's a technical matter I'm inclined to agree with you. I say something rather close to this but just reinforce the point. I think often the forest ecology goes. Mistakes have been made and the mistakes have been made for a long long time long before the pressures that now exist on colleges and universities emerge. The mistake has been made to imagine that general education was some kind of special subject matter or some kind of special course. There may be practical reasons for giving survey courses but the difference between a general education and UN general education is a distinction that can be made within any
discipline you can teach sociology with a view to emphasis on basic concepts on the kind of thinking it is and then at the other end with a view to seeing how this way of approaching problems illuminates certain broad problems of human public interest. You had General education and I could imagine a college which offered no interdepartmental courses which was entirely devoted to general education. People quite often refer to the Harvard red book The general education of free societies a landmark about the development general education United States came out in 45 46. The basic premise of that book was that most Americans would not go on to college precisely the argument in that book was the need to develop general education to bridge a gap between those who would not go on to college and those who did so they should share a common heritage. This was the fundamental assumption the creation of general education Harvard and to some extent imitation is probably elsewhere. What's happened is how completely they've been and engulfed in the fact that students don't stay in high school but now do go on to college and and large in large numbers. In this respect and here it seems to me that
now we're just becoming aware of the dimensions of this. This way I mean it's easy enough to bemoan it it's easy enough to stand outside and condemn it. But we are accepting in effect to some NSA incompatible things but to huge forces which are the moment can't be matched which is this innovative function which takes us away in part but which is also socially useful because something only a university can do some of these tasks. Secondly mass education in this respect and thirdly the integration of the two in terms of giving advance knowledge to the students where you now have mass education to receive it and to go back to those books we mentioned at the beginning you started with barge and good men incur each in a way will occur the least of all though I don't agree with it all but the other two are efforts to solve the problem by Disalvo. Yet you see you you turn your back in the bars in case I think on the issues. That I think Gulf current universities and Goodman too is kind of nostalgically wishing things weren't the way they are. Well I think it's true that Kurt simply dismisses the students as a neglected
group and says the campuses are full of walking wounded. But this is the cost of progress that's in the book. Paul says get out of the universities form these enclaves of dissidents which I think would drive each other crazy very quickly and as you said in New York New York Times review once that a place called Black Mountain College. Well they weren't attached to a large institution tell me what I said Harold I can't wait to hear what you said with these separate separated institutions of separate people working close to the big universities could only exist on the bodies of the big universities which then sort of beg the question. In any event both these solutions neglect and the formation of small enclaves aren't an answer to either of the big problems with human and raised that is to say if you have a responsibility to students to induct them into the intellectual life college education and at the same time to have the universities act as the innovating force within the society somebody is going to have to make some choices.
Now then do you find that in your analysis of the present university that these choices are being handled properly or are they being handled in faculty committees are they being handled by university presidents or by home. Good question. I really appreciate this because most discussions one of the gauges and people come with pre-set minds reminds me the ultimate story of a man running down the street shouting I've got an answer who's got a question. Now you're really putting it the right way which is to raise the real question where the answer is not yet in sight and I'm not sure within the last few minutes here that one can give answers I would say sadly that it's only now that people are beginning to think about these problems and as yet I don't know of any viable solutions. Well I have great I have to agree to I think that we're in a kind of classic situation in human history people like to have their cake and eat it. There are reasonable demands being made on society from two sides one for innovation and the other for opening up the educational system to great
numbers. I would not like to deny the legitimacy of either but how you can satisfy both when you have after a limited resources and a bound you in the most extraordinary society. But I would say this basically I don't think the problem can can be solved without a large scale social investment indeed national investment in American universities the basic source of our troubles to my mind is that the American government hasn't begun to recognize the nature of the problem or make the commitment to the problem that it has to. Well could I shift to the same question. In a different way you two men are among the my judgment the most brilliant and distinguished faculty members working in the universities today. You have given your attention to the problems of education then Bele in this study of Columbia and you in your editing of books and in your own articles and in your own work in a book on modern man and
in your teaching. In what way have you found your own life within the university shifted. If we're going to talk about the shifting role do these these basic social and philosophical questions having to do with the role of knowledge in modern society affect you directly in your work as a faculty member. Oh yes they have indeed Harold of course. I'm not sure that it isn't part of the natural development of a man's career as he gets older. But certainly I have lived through these changes. I used to have smaller classes I used to find more time and find it easier to get close to students and I might say that my own attitudes here to my knowledge haven't changed but I notice that students have they are more hesitant to approach me. Maybe because my hair is gray or maybe because the class is larger. Why is class A lodger. Well I'm a senior professor so I get put in the classes P students come. Well a lot of them as well whatever the reason the classes
larger. I'm less close to the students. Also there are of course many many more demands on me from the outside world from government magazines from scholarly societies from other universities to give lectures and all this is part of my normal life as a professor of philosophy and as an intellectual I do honestly believe I'm a better teacher for all these things in that sense I think it's a mistake again to say there's some sort of conflict but. Where do you find very much under pressure yes. Do you think that the actual amount of time you spend with students whether in larger or smaller groups or individuals is less than it used to be. No no not not basically I have been involved it's only honesty in certain kinds of projects have taken me off the campus for semesters at a time but I've now inclined to resist these and when I'm on the campus I don't spend less time with students than I used to. I spend more time with graduate students. I don't know if this is the growth of the graduate school or again the change in my own relationship to the
department. Then my story is simply echoes as we've been playing often ensconced on here. Yeah I've become I suppose when these peripatetic professors I go down to Washington two days a month to serve on a Govern Commission which is scrutinizing technology automation economic progress. I don't regard it as anything outside what is a legitimate role it seems to me of my my function which is be a center to teach because at the same time I'm learning a lot here myself it's not simply I'm giving advice or simply assessing situations. I've learned a lot about the operation of government in this way something which I knew about abstractly in FEEL EXPERIENCE. So I want translates back to students as part of me and this is a part of research as well. You know this notion of an ivory tower makes no sense because one doesn't get an ivory tower no matter how magic of a professor is any gut feeling if you will experience a feeling of what problems are in a very real way and how the limits and recalcitrance of the solving problems occur. So that seems to me this is a legitimate extension the kind of thing I do. The problem of how one bears it within the time one gets to the different functions as a matter of conscience you try to do as best you can.
Well I should think that it is in a sense an irony that Charles Franco as a philosopher in the modern world is out in the world getting this experience will way of going. One can understand in the case of a sociologist a philosopher of experience. Well I think that's true and I. I think philosophy if it is partly love of my own discipline an interest in saying what I think philosophy is likely to die in the United States if it lives on a thin diet I think you know what I don't see that it is those more important living I know there's more have a problem with loss in fact now is a real possibility seems to be philosophy to play a social role in this extract. I've been out the 70s the commission and this commission watched which is set up by the president to deal with this question of automation. Every time we come to a problem it ends up always the problem what are the values. How do you clarify choices. Problem isn't really where you have a society which is directed to social changes every side now is willingly or unwillingly you really have a problem as to what your priorities are we can commit resources how do you justify the commitment what are the values involved how do you clarify values how do you reconcile points of
view and I'm not saying that people I'm selves are exempt from this type of task. But this is preeminently it seems to me the role of a philosopher to be able to clarify the issues at stake to show where the nuts and some of the logical errors but what's at stake in terms of the various choices that one wants to make. And more and more it seems to me one would want to have philosophers that revolved in this type of process and one does well I think this is well it's the heart of the thing we are indeed playing Alphonse and Gaston and this is all part of self education and a process of educating students which is one of the most important reasons for not separating too sharply the research function from the from the teaching function. Well I think what the answer is to the kind of philosopher you are is one who is concerned with social political. And theories of knowledge as they relate to issues in contemporary life the difficulty in the philosophical community of those who are academic the last for years is that they stay so remote from the actual areas in which you are most concerned down that
they really haven't anything to contribute. And I would prefer someone like Charles or yourself to tackle these questions of the future of the mission. Then they have a philosopher come in and analyze the sentences. The first thing you do now that's useful to take out the grubby language that is confusing people. But I think until you are sort of immersed in the data of your own society and you know what you're talking about when you talk about automation you can't argue as a philosopher about the issues. And I think some of the most interesting questions in contemporary thought about education and the future of society are coming from those who are not necessarily educators or philosophers professionally but are those scholars who have turned their attention to these things. And that's I think perhaps what we could argue for is more involvement by the faculty members in issues of the value questions having to do with the future of education. Well I think if they maybe sort of sum it up there might be less criticism of the so called
knowledge factory if the universities of the country turned out more people who acted as critics and censors of their society. If the universities were centers of organized social criticism value judgments there might be less of the claim that they are merely knowledge factories. And what you're saying about philosophy I think can to some extent be applied to many other disciplines there's a kind of fetishism of fact factuality in many of our graduate schools which I think is quite mistaken. Well may I thank you very much Charles Franco philosopher and Professor Daniel Bell sociologist for joining me in the discussion of the shifting role that the university has been illuminated for me and I hope it may be for our listeners. You've been listening to gateway to ideas a new series of conversations in which ideas are discussed in relation to reading today's program the shifting role of the
university has presented Charles Frankel Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University and Daniel Bell professor of sociology also at Columbia University. The moderator was Harold Taylor educator and. The author to extend the dimensions of today's program for you a list of the books mentioned in the discussion as well as others relevant to the subject has been prepared. You can obtain a copy from your local library or by writing to gateway to ideas. Post Office Box 6 for 1 Time Square Station New York. Once again PS enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope. Write a box 6 for 1 Time Square Station New York gateway to ideas is produced for a national educational radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation. The programs are prepared by the National Book Committee and the American Library Association in collaboration with the National Association of educational
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Gateway to ideas
Shifting role of the university
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WRVR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
American Library Association
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program explores the role of the university in modern American society. The moderator is Dr. Harold Taylor. Guests are: Dr. Charles Frankel; and Professor Daniel Bell, both of Columbia University.
Series Description
This discussion series, produced by the American Library Association, features noted authors, critics and scholars on various topics related to reading.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Announcer: Meyer, Eva
Moderator: Taylor, Harold, 1914-1993
Panelist: Frankel, Charles, 1917-1979
Panelist: Bell, Daniel, 1919-2011
Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: American Library Association
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 65-2-25 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:44
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