Universities: Ideopolis for the World

Casting a magisterial eye at the whole sweep and scope of the U.S. university, California's President Clark Kerr last week spied "an institution unique in world history"—a city of intellect that is not really private and not really public, neither entirely of the world nor entirely apart from it. In delivering this year's annual Godkin Lectures at Harvard, Kerr gave this institution a new name: "the multiversity"—a cluster of sub-universities spouting ideas at a time when "knowledge has never been so central to the conduct of an entire society."

At first glance, says Kerr, the multiversity is merely "a series...

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