Public Universities and the Public Sphere: Justifying State Support for Higher Education
February 23, 2011
Woodruff Smith, Professor of History
In his presentation on February 23, 2011, Woodruff Smith discussed his new book, Public Universities and the Public Sphere. In the book, Smith argues that two contemporary crises facing America – a crisis of public discourse and a crisis of public higher education – are closely connected. The center of significant public discussion in the United States is located in a core public sphere consisting of publications, associations, and universities that was consciously constructed in the nineteenth century. The modern American university originated in the process that created the core public sphere. Public universities essentially democratized the core public sphere in the twentieth century. Part of the solution to both crises lies in understanding and building on the connection.
Woodruff D. Smith is professor of history and formerly dean of the liberal arts faculty at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is the author of several books on German history, imperialism, and the history of the cultural sciences, including Consumption and the Making of Respectability 1600-1800 (2002). Professor Smith is a recipient of the Democracy in Higher Education Award of the National Education Association.
Sponsored by: The Provost’s Office and College of Liberal Arts