The Unvirtuous Truth About The Virtue of Harvard

29 09 2009

While you’re raging against American institutional gods like Wall Street and the insurance cabal, think about this:

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Think Tank: The "Veritas" About Harvard"

Elite universities have benefited mightily from a number of converging long-term trends, none of their making. The markets made them rich, America made them famous, globalization and the information revolution made their services particularly valuable. The winner-take-all society made them objects of aspiration, nexuses of money, power, and prestige, places where those forces pulse and converge.

They are, without a doubt, extremely valuable institutions that contribute much in the way of science, scholarship and culture. They make the world a better place. But they’ve mistaken their good fortune and great fortunes for virtue, and have lost their way. . .

How does that manifest itself and why should you care, especially if you weren’t trying to send a child to Harvard anyway? Well, let’s see:

Even the greatest universities weren’t built to handle the stress that comes with unlimited institutional and public need. They’re schools, not governments—educational institutions, not nation-states. If they’re not careful, the unruly and immensely powerful forces of wealth and aspiration will break them apart.

It’s said that the wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall. That some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Such truths were well known to those who stamped “Veritas” on the Harvard seal hundreds of years ago. The university needs to learn them again and to get back to the simpler, smaller, more important task of helping people learn.

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2 responses

29 09 2009
JJ

I’m off to the bookstore to buy, coincidentally, a utopian fiction by Ralph Nader called, “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us” . . .

25 02 2010
Blackwater, Google and Whales, Oh My « Cocking A Snook!

[…] much in the way of science, scholarship and culture. They make the world a better place. But ’ve mistaken their good fortune and great fortunes for virtue, and have lost their way. . […]

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