Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Influence of German Higher Education on U.S. Higher Education During the 1800’s

While I was reading chapter 10 “Science and Education: Towards a New Pedagogy” in A History of Western Education: Volume III: The Modern West (1981) by J. Bowen I came across an interesting part about Henry Tappan (1st President of the University of Michigan) and his visit to Prussia. Tappan’s argued that German universities served as the model for universities in the United States because they “were ‘purely universities’, complete with libraries…” (p. 355). I knew that Germany was top destination for students and scholars from the United States during 1800’s (and remains a top destination today) but I was unaware of some of the reasons why this occurred. This chapter has helped me to better understand the interest of U.S. scholars towards studying in Germany and in Europe in general during this time period. Bowen mentions a book that now is a must read for me and that is German Universities: A Narrative of Personal Experiences by James Hart from 1874. The idea by the trustees of making Johns Hopkins a wholly graduate institution based on the German model and, in the end, would make studies abroad unnecessary is fascinating to me. I would be interested in knowing how many others or which other institutions had a similar philosophy about modeling after the German system thus eliminating the need to study abroad. How about The University of Chicago where I work?

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