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developments that finally made science respectable, but the part that they played was an extremely important one.
Only as science built up its subject matter and began to exercise considerable influence upon men's methods of thinking, did the liberal or classical college gradually accept the sciences as members in the family of learned subjects and become in fact a college of arts and sciences. Thus the college of arts and sciences is a relatively late development of the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
But acceptance was in the spirit and from the standpoint of the traditional conception of the liberal and classical college. Science was valued not for the practical and useful reasons and purposes that dominated the Morrill Act, but as an element in the general body of knowledge that enters into the making of the educated man. The abstract ideal of an educational purpose that concerned itself not at all with vocational and immediately practical objectives was and is sometimes still proclaimed as the sole purpose of the college of arts and sciences. Quite apart from the uses that may be made of the knowledge acquired it was stated that the function of the college of arts and sciences is that of providing a general education for men and women of the intellectual classes.
Is this a function appropriate to the purposes of the land-grant institutions as laid down by the Morrill Act? It makes little difference whether this question is answered upon the basis of legal interpretation or upon the basis of an idealistic conception of the mission assigned by the fundamental charter embodied in the act that bears Mr. Morrill's name. The act itself makes provision for scientific and classical studies, not excluding military training, in order to promote a liberal and practical education.
Mr. Morrill on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the land-grant colleges said:
The design was to open the door to a liberal education for this large class at a cheaper cost from being close at hand and to tempt them by offering not only sound literary instruction, but something more applicable to the productive employments of life. It would be a mistake to suppose it was intended that every student should become either a farmer or a mechanic, when the design comprehended not only instruction for those who hold the plow or follow a trade, but such instruction as any person might need—with all the world before them where to choose and without the exclusion of those who might prefer to adhere to the classics.
The transformation of the classical course into an arts and science one did not change the fundamental or essential purpose—the provision of a liberal education for the industrial classes. There is in the act itself or in the ideal that is more nearly basic to the original conception of the land-grant college than the language of the law, nothing to forbid and much to command the offering of a liberal education without definite vocational objectives by the land-grant institutions.
However, the situation is complicated by the organization of the land-grant institutions themselves and by their different positions in the higher educational systems of the various States. Twenty-four of the land-grant institutions are State universities and two additional are Territorial universities. Nineteen are land-grant colleges, institutions separate from the State universities of their States. Seven are in political units which have no State or Territorial universities.
There is no question and there never has been any question that the land-grant university may very properly and is to a considerable degree obligated to offer to students opportunities for the general education which it is the purpose of arts and sciences to give. Perhaps also the land-grant institutions that are maintained in States and Territories that have no State universities might well be expected to provide such general training, but the right of the individual States to determine whether this shall or shall not be done has never been questioned.
The question becomes acute only in those States where separate land-grant colleges and State universities are maintained as independent institutions. Here the conflicts between university and land-grant college tend to become most troublesome, and frequently these difficulties center about expansion of arts and science offerings by the land-grant colleges. These colleges are thought of as strictly technical institutions or even more narrowly and mistakenly as strictly agricultural colleges. Since the essential functions of the liberal and scientific elements in technical education are not very generally understood either by educators or by the public, protests concerning expensive duplication of offerings arise. It is assumed that a considerable body of liberal and scientific courses in the separate technical land-grant institution indicates expansion in these fields beyond technical needs in order that the general educational purposes of the isolated college of arts and sciences may be served. This may sometimes be the actual case, and when it is, the problem is one for State solution rather than for settlement upon the basis of appeal to the provisions or interpretations of the Federal act creating the land-grant institutions. The Interior Department which administrates the Morrill Act has never shown any disposition to restrict State control over the offerings of its own higher educational institutions in the fields of arts and sciences.
Rulings of the Interior Department provide that the MorrillNelson appropriations may be spent for such subjects as English, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, botany, zoology, geology, mineralogy metallurgy, entomology, physiology, bacteriology, pharmacy, physical geography, meteorology, political economy, commercial geography, sociology, etc., besides agriculture, engineering, home economics, and preparation of teachers. These courses are grouped under the headings mentioned. Although the Morrill-Nelson funds can not be spent for other subjects, the States may make whatever distribution they consider appropriate to meet their respective needs. The proportion is immaterial so long as the terms of the act are met. For comparison the proportions spent in 1908 and in 1928 are shown.
All but 10 States interpret the Morrill-Nelson Acts to carry as clear an obligation to maintain collegiate instruction in the arts and sciences as to maintain instruction in agriculture or mechanic arts. The foregoing table shows that more than half of the Morrill-Nelson money pays for instruction in arts and sciences, while 48.6 per cent is expended for engineering, agriculture, and teacher training. The distribution of the appropriations between arts and sciences and agricultural offerings and activities are entirely subject to State control. The Federal Government would probably feel justified in interfering with the States' distribution of Morrill-Nelson funds only if State restriction in the fields of arts and sciences reached the point where it became impossible to carry on work of college grade in the technical fields of agriculture and mechanic arts.
In addition to the approach to the problems of arts and sciences in the land-grant institutions from the standpoint of general education without immediate vocational objectives, it is necessary to consider the development with reference to its vocational services and functions. It is sometimes assumed that the old classical or literary college had no vocational purpose or service to perform. This assumption is not in accord with the facts. The classical college afforded direct preparation for the ministry, law, public service, and medicine. The liberal arts were the stock in trade or the immediate intellectual tools of practitioners in all these professions. Nevertheless, there was little specific adaptation of the classical subjects to the
needs of any of these occupations and the vocational purpose was served with the minimum disturbance of or interference with the general educational objectives that the classical college was supposed to have.
When the classical college became the college of arts and sciences without changing its general educational purpose, the newly adopted scientific elements were not motivated by practical use in the older professions to the degree that the arts and humanities had been. The sciences tended to become dilettante and decorative accomplishments so far as these professions were concerned. Gradually also and relatively late in our educational history the traditional professions, ministry, medicine, and law developed their own professional schools. From 1860 to 1874 the number of law schools in the United States increased from 20 to 41, schools and departments of medicine from 38 to 63, and dental schools from 3 to 12. This rapid development during the period that the land-grant institutions were being created is significant although these early professional schools were much less closely related in spirit and purpose to their modern successors than were the land-grant institutions. Nevertheless, direct prepara
, tion for these professions was sought increasingly rather than indirect preparation through arts and sciences organized for general purposes without reference to vocational objectives. In other words motivation of the general arts and sciences curriculum by virtue of these professional objectives became weaker as the professions themselves developed their own educational agencies. The emphasis tended to become one of demand for specific service from arts and sciences although this has been much greater in the case of the technical fields.
Paralleling this development, although somewhat prior to it in point of time, the land-grant institutions attacked the study and teaching of the sciences for the direct purpose of applying them to the practical problems of agriculture and engineering. In 1875 the United States Commissioner of Education reported 74 schools of science in the United States, including in the count scientific divisions of colleges and universities as well as separate institutions. Of these, 41 were land-grant colleges. Agriculture and engineering developed a variety of highly technical fields of employment and other new occupations and professions were created upon the basis of scientific knowledge and investigation. Yet recognition of the sciences was slow and acceptance by the classical colleges of general culture reluctant. In 1877, the first American Cyclopædia of Education reported that, “ The true importance of a scientific study of nature has not been recognized by the greater part of those who are engaged in education."
By the time that the classical college had accepted the sciences and become the college of arts and sciences intended to serve general educational objectives, the technical professions had progressed so far that the science of the colleges was ill adapted and inadequate to serve the purposes of the newer technical professions. The sciences demanded by these professions went far beyond the needs of a college that was intended to provide only a general cultural education.
Thus, the high development of the sciences and of their application combined with the changed content and viewpoint of the traditional liberal professions and the creation of new social and economic specializations to demand from arts and science types of service courses difficult to assimilate in any arts and science curriculum intended to provide general education through the synthesis of humanistic and scientific appreciations. The college of arts and sciences was compelled to render the service demanded or to lose large areas that it had come to regard as peculiarly its own to the powerful schools of vocational specialization. Six tendencies resulted :
First, the college of arts and sciences attempted to make highly specialized courses in the physical, biological, and social sciences serve its general cultural purposes. The results were not very satisfactory and recently the complaint has been made vigorously that the general educational purposes of the college of arts and sciences have been destroyed by the demands and encroachments of the special schools.
Second, the special and technical schools failing to receive the service they needed from the college of arts and sciences have themselves undertaken to conduct courses in the sciences and humanities suitable to their purposes. Thus, we have developed agricultural chemistry, dairy bacteriology, business English, engineering economics, and a whole series of highly specialized scientific courses conducted by the technical schools themselves. In some land-grant institutions entire fields of science have been brought so completely over from the college of arts and sciences into the school of specialization that the special school offers the work in these areas which the college of arts and sciences requires for the attainment of its general educational purposes.
Third, in some instances the college of arts and sciences tends to break down into independent schools. This is especially likely to be the case in the separate land-grant institutions where technical purposes are dominant. Thus the teaching and administration of arts subjects may be in one division and the sciences in another and in both cases they may be independent of or subordinated to one or more of the technical divisions.
Fourth, during the period of development of the technical specializations there was in the land-grant institutions especially a period of more or less impatience with and neglect of the social and humanistic even as tools for technical purposes. The error in this tendency soon became evident and the need for breadth as a foundation for specialization has led to advocacy of the junior college period as an unspecialized general preparation for subsequent concentration, thus reducing the period of general arts and sciences college training from four to two years.
Fifth, in medicine and law the tendency seems to be toward extending the two years of general arts and science training to three and even four years, thus completing the circle in the evolution of the college of arts and sciences with references to these areas.
Sixth, the college of arts and sciences tends to develop its own vocational objectives. The technical schools become more and more dependent upon progress in the social, physical, and biological sciences as such. This progress comes largely through investigation that is remote from immediate application,