EGMT 1530: The Public University

This course critically considers the institution of the public university, an educational ideal that dates back to the Enlightenment and continues through to the public and governmental debates of the present. Visions of the public may conjure up universality, yet they also define populations and interests. And there are different perspectives on the role of education, for a full life in the world, for national or other kinds of citizenship, and/or for professionalization. What becomes clear is that the university is both an actual place and an idea, mapped and conceived, and always open to revision. In the spirit of debate, we will engage questions of accessibility, inclusion, place, profit, and politics as we ponder the history of institutions in the United States and all over the world, and differences therein. In a neoliberal moment, can the divide between “the private” and “the public” be maintained, and what are the responsibilities of those who study and work at universities like UVA that self-present with the mission of serving the common good? No less importantly, how is the work inside the university, and its particular mix of humanistic and scientific inquiry, shaped by what lies outside of it? Readings for the course will span philosophy, history, literature and sociology, and students will be encouraged to engage in different forms of research.