The University in the Twenty-first Century

Teaching the New Enlightenment in the Digital Age
$90.00 / €79.00 / £71.00
Publication date: 
302 pages

This volume addresses the broad spectrum of challenges confronting today’s universities. Elkana and Klöpper question the very idea and purposes of universities, especially as viewed through curriculum—what is taught, and pedagogy—how it is taught. The reforms recommended in the book focus on undergraduate or bachelor degree programs in all areas of study, from the humanities and social sciences to the natural sciences, technical fields, as well as law, medicine, and other professions.

The core thesis of this book rests on the emergence of a ‘New Enlightenment'. This will require a revolution in curriculum and teaching methods in order to translate the academic philosophy of global contextualism into universal practice or application. Are universities willing to revamp teaching in order to foster critical thinking that would serve students their entire lives? This book calls for universities to restructure administratively to become truly integrated, rather than remaining collections of autonomous agencies more committed to competition among themselves than cooperation in the larger interest of learning.

Chapter 1: Introduction
What We Are Up Against
The Difficulty of Comprehensive Curriculum Reform
The Problems of Contemporary Higher Education
Rethinking the Enlightenment
What May Be Done to Address the Problems
The University in the Age of Globalization
Rethinking the Enlightenment and Global Contextualism
Academic Freedom
Funding & “Publish or Perish”
Principles for a New Undergraduate Curriculum
Curriculum Research and the Future of Higher Education
Some Speculative and Optimistic Thoughts

Chapter 2: The Idea of the University
The Ideal of the Research University
From ‘Solitude and Freedom’ to The Multiversity
The Problem of Commercialization
The Universalism of the Idea of the University
Where Are We Today?
The British University
The German University
The American University

Chapter 3: The Aims of the University
The University’s Purposes—A Historic Perspective
Einsamkeit und Freiheit —Solitude and freedom
Lehr- und Lernfreiheit—The freedom of teaching and learning
Einheit und Differenzierung von Wissenschaft—The unity and differentiation of science
Bildung durch Wissenschaft—Learning through academic study
Einheit von Lehre und Forschung —The unity of teaching and research
Humboldt’s Relevance Today and What the 19th Century did not Know
The Liberal Arts Tradition
Higher Education for the “New Global Century”
Knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world
Intellectual and practical skills
Personal and social responsibility
Integrative learning
Learning Objectives in a Curriculum Reflecting the New Enlightenment
Educate Everyone for “Concerned Citizenship”
Train the Next Generation of Researchers
Conceive Undergraduate Education as Substantially General Education
Make the Study of Values a Cornerstone of an Education in Critical Thinking
Create an Intellectual Fusion of Theory and Practice
Prepare Students for the Complexity and Messiness of the World
Cultivate Self-understanding
Establish a New Culture of Collective Networked Learning
Learning from Life about Life and for Life

Chapter 4: A Manifesto for Curriculum Reform
The Core Ideas behind Comprehensive Curriculum Reform
The Theoretical Basis of the Curriculum Reform Manifesto
A New, Comprehensive Understanding of General Academic Education
How the New Enlightenment Will be Incorporated in the Curricula
The History of Debate on Curriculum Reform
New Approaches for a Comprehensive General Education
German and European Debates
Optimistic Thoughts

Chapter 5: The Renaissance of Rhetoric and Meaning
Some Theoretical Considerations
“Teaching Rhetoric” or the Cultivation of Reasonableness
A Redefinition of Critical Thinking
Communicating Science to the Public
Epistemological Considerations
Rhetorical Considerations
Policy Considerations
Cunning Reason: Metis
Practical Reason: Phronesis

Chapter 6: New Curricula and New Disciplines
The Crisis in the Humanities: A Never-Ending Controversy
The Role of the Humanities in the 21st Century
Some Examples: Economics and Psychology
A New Curriculum for the Natural Sciences
Recognizing and Promoting Quality: A Challenge Spanning across Disciplines
The Establishment of New Scholarly Disciplines
Global Contextualism and the New Enlightenment: Guidelines for a Meaningful Renewal of Teaching

Chapter 7: Rethinking the Unity of Research and Teaching
Teaching Quality: Taking Stock of the State of Affairs
The “Publish or Perish” Paradigm and its Effect on the Quality of Teaching
The Impact of the Science Citation Index
Research is not the Measure of All Things
How the Research Imperative Determines the Quality of Teaching
The Future of Evaluating Academic Performance
From Bulimic Learning to the Conveyance of Skills and a World View
Tenure and the Relevance of Teaching

Chapter 8: Democracy and the Philosophy of Education
Some Preliminary Theoretical Considerations
The Role of the State
Towards a Philosophy of Higher Education
On the Meaning of Practical Reason
Cultivating Intellectual Diversity

Chapter 9: Doctoral Education
The Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate
On the Purpose of Doctoral Education
The Situation in Europe
Doctoral Studies as an Education for Science and Citizenship


“Deconstruction of the established system of higher education seldom invites committee-minded academic administrators to venture into reading another book that invites self-flagellation. This comprehensive and lucid treasure book is the exception. This is not another self-help book for fixing the university of the twenty-first century but a method of thinking through the underlying problems, offering very practical conclusions. Uniquely relevant for five continents!”
“This book reflects Elkana’s deep knowledge about the British, German and American university systems, complemented by the audacious perspectives of the young scholar Klöpper on where the digital world will lead us. It is intellectually rich and not just readable but engrossing for all who care about the future of universities in democracies. The authors convincingly argue that the idea of the university has to be radically reinvented, if it is to last.”
“Yehuda Elkana’s life-long passion for higher education and his equally radical insights into how teaching and learning ‘could be otherwise’ were guided by his conviction that we need a New Enlightenment. Yehuda’s wisdom and experience merge with Hannes Klöpper’s enthusiasm and know-how of the digital world. The outcome has deep implications for universities and curriculum development facing the global contextualism of the 21st century.”
“Elkana and Klöpper explain why and how universities have to respond if they are to retain any meaningful role in a world that desperately needs to be better understood and requires more knowledgeable and concerned citizens.”
“The distinctive, intellectually omnivorous voice of the late Yehuda Elkana resonates throughout this jointly authored and edited volume. This book is about learning: how and what we learned in the past, what we learn now, and why and how the digital revolution changes the ways we learn.”