Danish Yearbook of Philosophy 52 (1):61-81 (2019)

Trystan S. Goetze
Harvard University
Current disputes over the nature and purpose of the university are rooted in a philosophical divide between theory and practice. Academics often defend the concept of a university devoted to purely theoretical activities. Politicians and wider society tend to argue that the university should take on more practical concerns. I critique two typical defenses of the theoretical concept—one historical and one based on the value of pure research—and show that neither the theoretical nor the practical concept of a university accommodates all the important goals expected of university research and teaching. Using the classical pragmatist argument against a sharp division between theory and practice, I show how we can move beyond the debate between the theoretical and practical concepts of a university, while maintaining a place for pure and applied research, liberal and vocational education, and social impact through both economic applications and criticism aimed at promoting social justice.
Keywords universities  higher education  theory and practice  pragmatism  John Dewey
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DOI 10.1163/24689300-05201001
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The Concept of a University.D. W. Hamlyn - 1996 - Philosophy 71 (276):205 - 218.

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