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The Multiversity

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In 1963, Clark Kerr, the president of the University of California system, gave a series of lectures subsequently collected in a famous book, “The Uses of the University.” He argued that both of these paradigms—the former largely inspired by British schools like Oxford and Cambridge, the latter largely inspired by the great German universities of the nineteenth century—had no actual equivalent in the U.S. Instead, he said, the Americans created the “multiversity”: a kind of hodgepodge of both types and more.

The multiversity incorporates the tradition of land-grant universities, established with an eye to industrial-age skill sets. And it provides something for everyone. There is pre-professional training of all sorts—law schools, business schools, medical schools, agricultural schools—but also the old liberal-arts quadrangle. “The university is so many things to so many different people that it must, of necessity, be partially at war with itself,” Kerr wrote.

Read the full article at The New Yorker:

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