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Article Title

An Idea of the College

Abstract

Cardinal John Henry Newman in the spring of 1852 delivered a series of lectures, eventually published as The Idea of a University, which argued against those who thought that education should be useful. These proponents of utility maintained “that Education should be confined to some particular and narrow end and should issue in some definite work” – a view, Newman observed, which they “seemed to have thought ... needed but to be proclaimed ... to be embraced.” Were Newman here today he would soon see that the issues troubling him trouble us. To be sure, we face now new slogans, crying not only for “utility” but, a decade ago, for “relevance” and, today, for “jobs.” Yet the questions are much the same, focusing on whether a college education should guarantee the immediate results of a specific product.

Note on the Author

Edward W. James is Associate Professor of Philosophy.

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