The Transatlantic Origins of the Modern Research University

26.01.2022, Lecture, online

12:00 - 1PM PT| Speaker: Emily Levine (Stanford University); moderator: Matthew Specter (UC Berkeley)| GHI Washington

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During the nineteenth century, nearly ten thousand Americans traveled to Germany to study in universities renowned for their research and teaching. By the mid-twentieth century, American institutions led the world. How did America become the center of excellence in higher education? And what does that story reveal about who will lead in the twenty-first century?

Prof. Levine (Stanford University) discusses her new book Allies and Rivals, the first history of the ascent of American higher education seen through the lens of German-American exchange, with scholar Matthew Specter (UC Berkeley), author of The Atlantic Realists: Empire and International Political Thought Between Germany and the United States.

In a series of compelling portraits of such leaders as Wilhelm von Humboldt, Martha Carey Thomas, and W. E. B. Du Bois, Levine shows how academic innovators on both sides of the Atlantic competed and collaborated to shape the research university. Even as nations sought world dominance through scholarship, universities retained values apart from politics and economics. Open borders enabled Americans to unite the English college and German PhD to create the modern research university, a hybrid now replicated the world over.

Levine and Specter will consider how innovation in the twentieth century was rooted in international cooperation—a crucial lesson that bears remembering today.