Soci. 4013
Senior Seminar: The Modern University

Theme: We attempt to analyze the nature of the modern university in this course. To this end we do several things: a brief comparative history of modern western universities; an examination of some of the main theoretical models inspiring modern universities, particularly that of Cardinal Newman's vision of an undergraduate liberal education on the one hand, and the German 'Humboldtian' model of the research university on the other hand; an examination of the main sociological approaches to understanding the modern university, primarily, the managerialist-functionalist approach, the political economy-marxian approach, and the approach of a number of thinkers associated with the contemporary French philosopher Jacques Derrida [sometimes called by their enemies "postmodernists"]; an examination of the stresses, strains and debates surrounding the university in Canada today, for example the debate about liberal education and about the cannon of great books, the increasing attempts to "corporatize" the university or make it the servant of big business, and the role of faculty unions.

Course structure: This is a seminar course. Class time will be taken up with discussion of assigned readings. As such, the quality of the course depends largely on how seriously you take it. I have set out a structure, but you have to take it from there. Of course, I will guide the discussion and help things alone, but what happens in class will depend on how well you do the regular readings. We may change the structure or the nature of the assignments as we go along, so be warned.

Classes will consist of discussion of assigned readings. You will also be required to hand in a 750 word mini-essay on one assigned reading per week.

Grading scheme:

Mini-essays: 50%
Participation: 20%
Final paper: 30%

If you miss one class you are docked 5%; 10% for two classes and 15% for three classes; more than three missed classes gets you an F. [This policy is in effect not to punish anyone, but because in a small seminar class the course will be destroyed if people do not attend.]

Main readings will be distributed in class for a $20 photocopy fee.


[This list is subject to modification as the course proceeds.]

History of the university:

Harold Perkin 1984 "The Historical Perspective." Pp. 17-55 in Burton Clark, ed., Perspectives on Higher Education. Berkeley: University of California Press.

The 19th Century German Model of the University

Elinor S. Schaffer. 1990. "Romantic Philosophy and the organization of the disciplines: the founding of the Humboldt University of Berlin." Pp. 38-54 in Andrew Cunnigham and Nicholas Jardine (eds.) Romanticism and the Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilhelm Von Humboldt. 1970 [1809]. "On the spirt and the organizational framework of intellectual institutions in Berlin." Minerva, 8: 242-250.

Bill Readings 1996 "The University and the Idea of Culture." Pp. 62-69 in The University in Ruins. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Newman's University Ideal:

Frank Turner 1996 "Newman's University and Ours." Pp. 282-301 in John Henry Newman The Idea of a University. Ed. Frank M. Turner. New Haven and London: Yale U.P.

John Henry Newman 1996[1899] "Preface." Pp. 3-11 in The Idea of a University. Ed. Frank M. Turner. New Haven and London: Yale U.P.

Barry Hindess 1995 "Great Expectations: Freedom and Authority in the Idea of a Modern University." The Oxford Literary Review, 17:1-2: 29-49.

The modern multiversity:

Clark Kerr 1963 "The Idea of a Multiversity." Pp. 1-45 in The Uses of the University. New York: Harper and Row.

Functionalist/managerial approaches to the university:

Manuel Castells 1994 "The University System: Engine of Development in the New Word Economy." Pp. 14-40 in J. Salmi and A. Vespoor, eds., Revitalizing Higher Education. International Association of Universities Press/Pergamon.

James Duderstadt 1999 "Can Colleges and Universites Survive in the Information Age." Pp. 1-25 in Richard N. Katz and associates, Dancing with the Devil: Information Technology and the New Competition in Higher Education. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Richard N. Katz 1999 "Competitive Strategies for Higher Education in the Information Age." Pp.27-49 in Richard N. Katz and associates, Dancing with the Devil: Information Technology and the New Competition in Higher Education. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Peter Emberley 1996 "The Corporate Right: Ending 'Business as Usual,'" and "The Corporate Right: Taking Care of Business." pp. 153-199 in Zero Tolerance. Penguin.

Bill Reading 1996. "The Idea of Excellence." Pp. 21-43 in The University in Ruins. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Criticizing the commercial university:

Janice Newson and Howard Buchbinder 1988 "A New Agenda: The Service University." Pp. 69-92 in The University Means Business. Toronto: Garamond.

Sociology / Faculty / STU HomepageMike Sosteric, Mike Gismondi and Gina Ratkovic 1998 "The University, Accountability, and Market Discipline in the late 1990's." Electronic Journal of Sociology. Http://

Lena Dominelli and Ankie Hoogvelt 1996 "Globalization, Contract Government and the Taylorization of Intellectual Labour in Academia." Studies in Political Economy 49: 71-100.

David Bercuson, Robert Bothwell and J.L. Granatstein 1997 "Planning for the Future: New Challenges and Honoured Traditions." Pp.69-90 in Petrified Campus. Toronto: Random House.

David Noble 1998 "Digital Diploma Mills, Part II: The Coming Battle Over Online Instruction." Sociological Perspectives 41.4: 815-825.

Trevor Cole 1998 "Ivy League Hustle." Pp. 34-44 in Report on Business Magazine, June.

Eyal Press and Jennifer Washburn 2000 "The Kept University." Pp. 39-54 in The Atlantic Monthly, March.

The culture wars:

Allan Bloom 1987 "The Student and the University." Pp. 336-382 in The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Richard Miller 1998 "'Education for Everybody': Great Books and the Democratic Ideal." Pp. 85-120 in As If Learning Mattered: Reforming Higher Education. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

The 'political correctness' controversy:

Peter Emberley 1996 "The Cultural Left: Political Correctness and Chilly Climates." Pp. 228-255 in Zero Tolerance. Penguin.

John K. Wilson 1995 'The Myth of Political Correctness." Pp. 1-30 in The Myth of Political Correctness. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

The end of the university?

Jurgen Habermas 1987 "The Idea of the University - Learning Processes." New German Critique 41: 3-22.

Add George Grant........

David Pan 1998 "The Crisis of the Humanities and the End of the University." Telos 111: 69-106.

Jacques Derrida 1983 "The Principle of Reason: The University in the Eyes of Its Pupils." Diacritics, Fall: 2-20.

Dr. Colm Kelly
Sociology 1006 - Introduction to Sociology
Sociology 3013 - Classical Sociological Theory
Sociology 3023 - Modern Sociological Theory
Sociology 3533 - Special topics "Derrida and the Future of the Social."
Sociology 4013 - Senior Seminar: The Modern University
Sociology 4033 - Advanced Sociological Theory

Sociology / Faculty / STU Homepage