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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The new-model German university of the nineteenth century built upon previous efforts to reform higher education and reached its highest point of development and influence before World War I. It shaped the roles of universities worldwide. Reforms reflected the conscious creation of institutions promoting cutting-edge research, in fields from physics and medicine to law and theology. This was combined with the highest standards of active, self-involved student preparation for the learned professions. Yet even at the height of its prestige, its contradictions and limitations were already visible by the 1920s. When the concept of the elite research university is subject to critique, revisiting its origins in Germany can provide stimulus to debates about the future of the university, not only in North America and Europe but in all countries with higher education systems influenced by the German or American models.

Keywords: university, professions, research imperative, professoriate, Wissenschaft, Bildung, polytechnics, scientific academies, Humboldt

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