Rediscovering the Social Contract of Successful Universities

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Emily Levine, Associate Professor of Education and (by courtesy) History at Stanford University joined the podcast to talk about her new book, Allies and Rivals: German-American Exchange and the Rise of the Modern Research University , and lessons we can learn today from past evolution of the academic social contract.

And that particular academic socialcontract, a privately funded one, has special importance. It's also themodern research university model, because it's the one that persists andhas the most longevity you could say in America, you're listening to enrolment growth,university from helic education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh en romant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to an Roman GrowthUniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, I'm EricOlsen with Heles Education and we're here today with Doctor Emily Levineassociate professor of education and by courtesy history at Stanford,university and author of the New Book Allies and rivals German Americanexchange in the rise of the Modern Research University, and we welcome tothe show thanks Aric. So much for having me really excited to talk to youtoday about your new book and the lessons we can learn today from pastevolutions and leaders of higher head. But before we dig in, can you getplisters a little bit of background on both Stanford and your gold? There sureyeah, I'm fairly new to Stamford, I'm an especially professor of education.As you said in the Graduate School of Education, I should say I'm new as afaculty member, I'm a historian by training and actually had the privilegeof having getting my PhD in history as a graduate student at Stanford, whichis a four year university in Stanford, California, and I returned recently midpandemic to teach it my alma mater and enjoy teaching classes on history ofhigher education and are masters students and policy and education andour former teachers who are coming back for more schooling, and it's greatplace to be here. Writing and thinking about the past and future of the ModernResearch University congrats. On the...

...new role and the move, I like that,we're both California buddies now and we exactly to kick us off. Can youprovide us with a high level overview and maybe the goals behind writing thisnew book allies and rivals sure yeah? So you know one thing: I've encountered,especially after leaving Sanford and coming back sort of AD. The tail end ofthis project is there's just there's so many myths about higher education, and,I think, there's also a bias in the education reform world that the historyof higher education is not useful. So if I have two general goals with thisbook allies and rivals, it's first I would say, is to dispel a number ofthese myths and to figure out how to make that past useful. So, first, firstoff I'd, say: There's this common misconception that care a lot about inthe public conversation complaining, even even popular and entrepreneurialcircles here and Silicon Valley, that the university is so old. You know it'shigh bound and stagnant. You know, and sometimes even scholars or analystslike to quote the famous line from Clark Cur, who is the twelfth presidentof the University of California in the? U S who said that the only otherinstitution as old as the university is the church, and you know he didn't meanthat as a compliment I like to say that longevity is not the same thing asDagnan, and my book shows that the University has persisted not because itstayed the same, but because it's proved to be remarkably adaptable. Andif you take that long historical view, you get to see what it takes to makethat institutional change happen. So, first we to spell the mist and thensecond, my goal is to make that past useful and that comes from seeing thatthe history of the university is itself a history of entrepreneurship. It's ahistory of failures and startups, and it's not just the result of impersonalhistorical forces. So the book tells a story about a series of charismatic andcompelling individuals, including the German and thinker and founder of theUniversity of Berlin Wilham Fun Humbolt.

The founding president of the firstModern Research University in America, Daniel Cote Gilman, the feministeducation, reformer, Martha, carry Thomas and the black sosologist webdevoiced to name a few and it tracks their trials, their failures and theirsuccesses in this sector, and what we see is that what part of what makesthem successful, maybe even the most important thing that makes themsuccessful, with their ability to negotiate what I call academic socialcontracts with different constituents, iterating different versions of theModern Research University over time who love this work, I'm so glad you'rebringing it to life, and will you claim that successful universities are theones able to strike a bargain between the State and society? help usunderstand that social contract that hired really needs to rediscover today,yeah yeah. Thank you so much for that question. So I would say universitieshave always had a reciprocal relationship with their host societies.Again, I think this is another sort of myth that requires kind of dispellingis is something we forget. We in the in the academy sometimes think you know wetake for granted. Oh, we get academic freedom or or students who go touniversity, say well, we get these goods or another, but one justificationfor university. Patronage and support has been that universities andsocieties serve each other's interest in this implicit agreement. What wouldI call an academic social contract and that contract over time is reconciled?The academic ideals say of open, scholarly discourse or the pursuit ofscientific truth with the practical needs and the particular ambitions ofpatrons, be they governments, civil societies or private donors right andthat changes over time? And I think this this is a very different frameworkfrom how scholar isn't typically right about the university and one of thedistinct contributions of allies and rivals. Typically, we hear about auniversity ideal abstracted from the...

...world, but I argue that it's better tounderstand that history as a history of compromises or contracts iterated bythese leaders over time, and there isn't just one model for a successfulacademic contract. Each one is different. So you know the contract iswhat's constant. What the historian looks at over time. The terms are theones that change and I could give you a few examples yeah. So so I think thefirst contract that that I look at at the book is in Berlin. Following thedefeat to Napoleon humbolt founded the university in Eighteen, ten, they gaveprofessors an unprecedented amount of autonomy like that autonomy needed topursue truth, to learn and of itself to do what we might call basic research inexchange for services to that society and that university. The University ofBerlin is important because in my telling backs the original model forthis framework- and it's the stor starting point of the story, then wemight fast forward to our second model at the height of the civil war, whenthe moral act on to eight hundred and sixty two established land grantinstitutions with the public mission of educating mechanics and farmers acrossthe country in exchange for each sane, you know Minnesota Iowa, Missouri,California, where we are getting a university as a cultural and economicanchor in the community, so a different kind of contract. And finally, a thirdmodel of the contract occurs in Baltimore on Oseige ten. Seventy Five,when Daniel Quite Gilman, to whom I already alluded, founded the JohnsHopkins University. He would he established the first modern researchuniversity in America and the first privately funded, one in which scholarsare free to pursue. We might take the humanity, for its own sake, again basicresearch in exchange for providing an undergraduate education to the students who are the sons of themoneyed men of Baltimore. Who in this case, are the universities, newcontracting partners, they're the donors, and they have funded thisinstitution and that particular...

...academic social contract. The privatelyfunded one has special importance. It's also the modern research universitymodel, because it's the one that persists and has the most longevity youcould say in America, so there's other moments of institutional innovation aswell that I cover from World War One to World War. Two, but we see over time isa pattern that emerges a contract is negotiated and once it's sort of runsits course or made obsolete by crisis or change of needs or imbalance. Thenacademic entrepreneurs, Russian to find new partners, formulate new ideas andrenew that contribution of higher education to the public good. I lovehow you point to not just finding the right educational model, but the leaderfor that time. What kinds of figures do feel have been best suited to propel tooversee institutional change, and what can we do to make sure that those kindsof individuals are the very ones that are empowered in our institutions? Yeah,it's a great question, because I really believe as a historian that this is nota defeatist history. None of this happens without leadership. It doesn'thappen without individuals, and you know that is one of the focus points ofthis book that the unique charismatic, visionary and impactful academicinnovators of the past. I think, hold lessons for the future, and these theseindividuals were extremely skilled and negotiating among differentconstituents. They are the ones who iterate these different versions of thecontract over time. Many were scholars like Humbleton Gilman but, moreimportantly, they were expert organizers who navigated the complexterrains of universities on one hand, with their scholars and their studentswho identify with the values of science and with the curriculum and society onthe other which, as I said, includes both states but also Phonanta, Ists andincreasingly other nonprofit and for profit entities as well. Of course. Soone common feature of success is that...

...these leaders were able to speak todifferent constituents in ways that they needed to be hurt right, bringingmultiple positions and viewpoints under a big tent to make that change happen.So if we go back to Gilman that founding president of Hopkins, hischallenge was how to bridge the divide between the scholars and the donors,and the first camp saw Hopkins is an opportunity to have the first premierinstitution of Higher Education in America, devoted to pure research onpar with the German ones, which the with their main model and madecompetitor as well in their day and we're motivated by that lofty goal andthe prestige of research. But the philanthropists and the moneyed men ofBaltimore. On the other hand, not only Johns Hopkins himself, but also the menon the board, who were judges, lawyers and rail, railroad men, an emergingregional industrial center, wanted to see the relevance of that research fortheir city. So if you look at the sources that I called from the archivesin the book, you see these ways in which Gilman Gilman is speaking tothese different camps in their language right and in the different language ofthese of their sectors and and what's remarkable, is that you see in thesenegotiations that Gilman himself have he had his way. He would have done awaywith undergraduates. He would not have given out the BA. He wanted nothing todo with the so called English model of the Liberal Arts College Right. He justwanted a an institution devoted to higher learning that gave the Germanstyle PhD, but he knew that his donors wouldn't go for it, because what doesthat do for them and there and their sons who needed training in Baltimore,so he compromised and he blended the two and from that we got the hybrid,the Ba plus the PhD. That is the modern American Research University today, sohe was successful because he was good at both extolling the knowledge for itsown sake and the benefits of applied science, and it was never entirelyclear which was his priority, and I...

...mean I would argue this with hisgreatest skill, and you can see this from the German and education reformerhumblest all the way up to Clark, Kur and California. So to go back to yourquestion Eric, I would say that not only do we need to seek out leaderslike this to have system wide views and can negotiate among multiple partners,but I think we need to think you know in the Graduate School of Education atStanford and an other institutions like it around the country. How do we trainand cultivate individuals to be good at these at navigating this complex torain? How do we cultivate later leaders, who are not only scholars but also canengage with questions about the public good to point of the necessity of looking backward inorder to look forward? What are some of the biggest warning signs from yourresearch that you've seen lead to unsuccessful institutions that we needto make sure we're looking out for today? Yeah! That's, that's a goodquestion to failures are important and you know in the story of Gilman. Yousee him fail twice before he gets it right. He tries at Yale in. He is toturn it into a modern research university, and it's not quite readyfor that change. He tries again at the University of California and he runs upagainst other challenges again, not quite able to bridge the gap betweenthe constituents there. So I think that they're not being open to seeing thatnegotiation as as a key part of the process isn't important, but I think italso connects to another misconception that if the university does somethingin its self interest, then that must be bad and that initiative won't besuccessful and I've come out against that misconception. A lot in my in myclasses already right- and I think part of what my book is trying to argue agens- is this notion of the idealist kind of university. It's a universityis a place of ideas, yes, but it's also a place of real word world compromisesand- and we shouldn't shy away from...

...that. A good good example of this is,if you take the debate about diversity, for example, like we assume, there's atension between social justice, on the one hand, doing the right thing and theself interest of an institution, but in fact it's often served interests, theinterests of institutions to bring previously excluded figures andmarginal ideas into the university. Marginal ideas were often the source ofinnovation and competition. So, at a time when antisemitism was pervasive,Gilman used the freedom of non denominationalism at Johns Hopkins thatit was. It wasn't going to be a religious institution to hire a Jew.The British mathematician James Joseph selvas as the first chair of theDepartment of Mathematics, and that was less a product of religious pluralismthan Gilman's strategy. To top this tremendous under you, don't utilizedtalent to give his new institution and end an edge and there's other examplesof that throughout the course of the book. Abraham flexnere, the author ofthe flexner report and a member of of the General Education Board, alsooffers a number of positions to German Jews fleeing, not see Germany to groundhis newly founded institute for mant study in prison in one thousand ninehundred and thirty three, and you know I call him an accidental humanist inthe book because he does this very much out of self interest. You know this isan opportunity to sort of grab up this talent and yet, of course, he alsosaves lives in the process. So I think not shying away from the notion of selfinterest is important, and I think this is you know embracing the historicalreality that the history of the university is a history of transactionsand it's getting those transactions and getting those those contracts. Right iswhat yields really these institutions that stand the test of time in terms ofthe tests of time. Let's fast forward thirty years yeah, let's set us in two thousand and fiftywell I'll. Take out my historian Crystal Ball. Is it I need I needed toso we'll assume we're dealing with you...

...know, coid. Forty nine, hopefullybetter than we do with nineteen, but describe what you believe. A successfuluniversity looks like in two thousand and fifty yeah, I'm laughing, becausethe story INS are characteristically not great at predicting the future, butI think I think the question that I can't answer is that you know what is ahistorically rooted way to think about your question. Eric Two thousand andfifty is thirty years from now. So, if we look at other thirty year periods inthe past, can we think about what might be possible? And you know I just toldthe story of a thirty year period to you in three minutes about the abouteighteen, seventy, five, one thousand nine hundred and eighty five. Arguablyone of the most important academic revolutions as it's called by somescholars in which we got the combination of the BA and the PhD theundergraduate and the graduate experiences that yielded the hybrid.That became the modern research university. That's been emulated andhis continued to be emulated it large. So not all periods are are, as you know,volatile or as generative as you might. You might say, but a historian, I think,like myself, would look at what we what made that possible and what would weneed to have the conditions of possibility for another moment ofEthiem, and you know radical change and I think it's a combination of externaland internal forces. In that case we had internal competition, we had war,we've talked about leadership and, of course, new ideas. So I think you knowwe're obviously coming out of a moment that has had a similar kind ofcombination of forces that suggest that we might see new kinds of formulationsand if I were to guess and if I were to hope, I would say just like we had theBA plus the PhD and that earlier era, I'd like to see new hybridizationcoming out of our current moment of change, including a combination betweenonline and residential pologies, combinations of the high school andcollege that create new pathways and more access into a league university islike, like Stanford Combinations of...

...workforce and learning that we wouldreinvigorate our landscape. And, of course, as the story shows, many ofthese will fail. But some like Johns Hopkins will succeed and could changehigher education. You know forever and we tremendous stuff. Finally, can youleave us with any next steps advice for institutions who are looking tonavigate this future of high red embracing past lessons, learn whathould their posture be? How should they approach that mission? Well, I wouldsay you know: History is your friend I would say to my colleagues anduniversity administration and an entrepreneurship alike. Take historyseriously and don't just view it as an obstacle, which is, I think, how wetypically hear it talked about right. I mean it's interesting if you considerother fields like if you were thinking about going into politics or themilitary, you think twice about mastering what is sometimes calledGrand Strategy. You know, reading a biography of Eisenhower, studying thePeloponnesian War happened even longer about to understand the principles ofdiplomacy, right and and of military strategy, but the great academic,innovators, by contrast, is seem. You know, lost largely forgotten ineducation circles, the Gilmans, the Thomases, a debois and the flexors, andyet their skills, their features and theiraccomplishments. I've tried to suggest or worth studying, so I would say:Let's, let's create curricula and let's create the opportunities to learn fromthem and take seriously the models of leadership from the past as opening upnew formulations for the future, and we think so much of your time today,what's the best place for listeners to go and grab your new book and learnmore thanks for asking Argan things for having me, I would say at my newwebsite, emily j Livno. They can find a link to the book and buy it from theirlocal book store wherever they buy books, and they all also can check outthe other events that I have coming up, both virtual and in person. I, when itcomes out in September, awesome- and we...

...think so much for joining us today.Thank you so much for having me or great to talk to you attracting today'snew post, traditional learners means adopting new enrolment strategies.Keleks educations data driven enterprise, wide approach to enrolmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation, landscape and Helix has just published the second edition of theirenrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions can solve today's most pressing and Roman growth challengesdownload it today for free at Helos Education, com, playbook, you've been listening to enrolmentgrowth university from helic education to ensure that you never missed anepisode subscribe to Yon Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you somuch for listening until next time.

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