Book Review: The Chief Purpose of Universities: Academic Discourse and the Diversity of Ideas, by William M. Bowen and Michael Schwartz
13 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2007 Last revised: 5 Mar 2009
This review of The Chief Purpose of Universities: Academic Discourse and the Diversity of Ideas, by William M. Bowen and Michael Schwartz, makes several points. First, it discusses how unusual, and refreshing, it is to have a sitting university president authoring a book about higher education. Second, it explicates, and generally agrees with, the authors' primary notions - that universities exist to conserve the variation of ideas and that the enemies of higher education (authoritarianism, supernaturalism, corporatism, and political correctness) must be resisted to the death. (Well, "to the death" is a bit of an overstatement, but Messrs. Bowen and Schwartz occasionally engage in hyperbole themselves.) Finally, the review questions whether Bowen and Schwartz give the concept of "variation of ideas" too broad an interpretation, one that could protect almost anything a faculty member does (or doesn't do).
Keywords: variation of ideas, chief purpose of universities, higher education, university presidents, political correctness, academic discourse, William M. Bowen, Michael Schwartz, storehouse of ideas, universities under attack, corporatism
JEL Classification: I20, I21, I29
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation