I really enjoyed reading about the history of academia in the U.S. and specifically, the role played by the research institution. Thinking about what the U.S. university should do in America today became a lot more complex idea after learning this history. Should universities primarily be “teaching” institutions that try to transfer knowledge to students or should they be “research” institutions and work to create new knowledge? I’m not sure as a society we have to choose one or the other. It is a false dichotomy. We have a huge and diverse population with the biggest economy in the world. There is room for both institutions and a need for both institutions. As a society, we have more than enough money and resources to support a whole host of different models.
Engineering students need to learn about ethics and the society they live in as much as social science students need an understanding of the science and technology that is changing their worlds.