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  • History of Universities in America (it might not be what you expected)

    Posted on October 10th, 2013 sarahann No comments

    Each Thursday evening, Virginia Public Radio hosts a program called BackStory. It is produced by three professors of history, who collectively refer to themselves as “The American History Guys.”  In their own words:

    BackStory is a public radio program & podcast that brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today. On each show, renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths. Over the course of the hour, they are joined by fellow historians, people in the news, and callers interested in exploring the roots of what’s going on today. Together, they drill down to colonial times and earlier, revealing the connections (and disconnections) between past and present. With its passionate, intelligent, and irreverent approach, BackStory is fun and essential listening no matter who you are.

    One recent broadcast entitled Degress of Freedom: Higher Education in America. The program explores the history of universities in the U.S., and how they have evolved from schools of primarily classic education (Latin, Greek, etc) to the liberal education institutions many are today. Segment 2 – “The Practical Humanities” (4:33-8:20), discusses the effects of the post-Civil War population boom on university structure and purpose. It was fascinating to learn how universities changed focus from looking to the past in order to provide for the present, to looking toward the future and how it may be shaped.

    If you are unfamiliar with the program, check out its archives. BackStory may be all about history, but it’s always timely.