Philosophers on research universities
September 28, 2012
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In the Library Journal. The philosophers are Kant, Schleiermacher, Fichte, Schelling, and von Humboldt.
This understanding of what a university should be became known as the “German Model,” and its influence on American higher education has been profound, from the creation of the first German-style graduate school in the United States—Johns Hopkins in 1876—to the grafting of the German Model onto existing colleges throughout the country. By the mid-20th century, the model of teaching supported by research had extended even to four-year liberal arts colleges as the qualification for teaching in them became the Ph.D., i.e., the research degree. As the range of scholarship grew, so did the collections and cooperation of academic libraries to support it.
The free scientific investigation of every subject in the light of human reason awakens the idea of knowledge in students and improves human society. This, at its best, is the goal of higher education. Academic libraries are part of the vast apparatus that supports this goal though the collection, preservation, and dissemination of human culture and scholarship.
Academic librarians are trying to support a scholarly mission to create better human beings and a better society through the creation of knowledge in all areas. That’s why we do what we do. There are worse jobs to have.