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73.4 - Title The opening of the American mind By Lee Lee C...

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Title: The opening of the American mind. By: Lee, Lee C., Human Ecology, 15307069, Winter91, Vol. 19, Issue 2 Database: Academic Search Premier HTML Full Text THE OPENING OF THE AMERICAN MIND Educating Leaders for a Multicultural Society One major aspiration of a university is to create future leaders of a nation and the world. A first- class university must provide a range of options, philosophies, and tools for its students. It should be both a center of knowledge and learning and an enabler for its graduates, who are its link with the larger society and with the future. In recent years, there have been many changes in higher education that have functioned not to serve the broader purposes of society, but to answer more specific demands. Large American universities, Cornell included, have responded to a number of outside pressures with the result that most universities, at the baccalaureate level, have become better at producing skilled professional graduates than graduates who have a broad, critical understanding of the world. In particular, the availability of funds and the demand for advanced research in the natural and physical sciences have been major contributors to a far-reaching trend toward specialization; as more resources--both human and financial--have gone into technical and scientific research, fewer remain for other educational purposes. This trend is also evident in the social sciences and the professions, where it appears that universities have responded less to academic considerations than to the certification requirements of professional societies. In addition, the university reward system for faculty advancement has further reinforced the trend toward specialization. Decisions about tenure and promotion are largely based on number of publications, and narrow specializations can produce many "pot boilers." On a vast scale, we now have higher education with a narrow focus. Specialization has gained stature, while the importance of a broad-based education--which was formerly unquestioned--has become increasingly obscured. Let us briefly consider what the graduates of a modern university face as they take on leadership roles in society. These graduates will share responsibility for an increasingly complex world, one in which technical knowledge and traditional wisdom appear to be at odds, a world in which national and corporate interests thrive alongside growing concern over global issues, a world being transformed by the demands of population, the influences of trade, and the possibilities of
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technology. Clearly, technical or professional competency alone is not sufficient preparation for responsible social, political, and economic participation. A university should, then, recognize the need to address possibilities beyond specialization: It should present an array of global issues, cultures and values for study and analysis; it should acquaint its students with the process of weighing various sets of values against each other; it
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