Harvard Educational Review
  1. Places of Inquiry

    Research and Advanced Education in Modern Universities

    By Burton R. Clark

    Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. 284 pp. $40.00

    Places of Inquiry is the second part of a two-volume study that compares the history and current status of research and advanced education in modern industrial nations. Following The Research Foundations of Graduate Education: Germany, Britain, France, United States, Japan, which Burton Clark also edited, this second volume is the result of Clark's analysis of extensive empirical evidence on national systems of academic research and advanced education gathered in fieldwork conducted by Clark and his collaborators abroad. In Places of Inquiry, Clark moves beyond the detailed country-based studies of Western patterns of education and research offered in Research Foundations. He analyzes changes over time in the configuration or composition of national research systems, sets up a typology of systems, then identifies current cross-national trends, problems, and future possibilities.

    Clark divides his book into two parts. Readers who like education history and wish to understand more about the origins of research universities will be particularly interested in Part One of this book. In Part One, drawing on a set of research questions carefully articulated in his introduction, Clark describes the evolution of the German university idea and its descendent, the German academic institute. Clark's description of the nineteenth-century German model of research and its profound influence on advanced education in other nations is informative and adds new insights to the literature on higher education issues. Clark argues that pedagogy was an integral part of the ideology underlying the classic German model, and then shows how, in practice, academicians of that era quickly veered away from training their advanced students in the broad humanistic and pragmatic concerns embodied in the original principle to emphasize disciplinary specialization and the investigative method. For Clark, what is important about the nineteenth-century German university idea is that it "established as an enduring principle the idea of a unity of research, teaching, and study" (p. 1). Its imperatives united the various empirical sciences through philosophy, and tied them to general upbringing and universal enlightenment so strongly that "the Berlin doctrine of 1810 in all its fullness was actually a variant of what is now called liberal education" (p. 22).

    Despite transformations across nations and time, the framework for this unity still has great symbolic power. It is still evident in the modern-day German system, and prevalent in U.S. graduate school training. Even in France, "institutional responses that protect and enhance research and research training have been evolving over several decades" (p. 113). It is therefore possible, Clark believes, to renew models of advanced education based on an understanding of inquiry or research as a foundation for teaching and study rather than on the concept of "education through inquiry and freedom of teaching and research linked to . . . ever increasing specialization that found its way into advanced training in universities everywhere" (p. 26).

    Clark gives equal attention in Part One to the characteristics of advanced training and research in Britain, France, Japan, and the United States. Clark stresses the historical and contemporary primacy in Britain of the aristocratic undergraduate Oxbridge residential college over graduate study, Britain's historical tendencies to homogenize the organization of research across institutions within small academic departments, chronic funding problems, and the characteristic British approach to advanced training as "a B.A. plus some research time" (p. 79). Clark decries the configuration of French universities: inferior in both status and resources, universities in France are subordinate to the elite but publicly supported grandes ecoles that select, train, and place researchers, while another sector, the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), is responsible for government-funded research. The Japanese system suffers from Japanese industry's domination of higher education as the site for research and research training; doctorates are acquired without coursework and graduate education lacks "sturdy research underpinnings" (p. 191).

    The graduate school is an American invention. The output of Ph.D.'s in the United States is comparatively huge, but the vast majority of colleges and universities are undergraduate-centered and oriented towards teaching (p. 11). U.S. graduate schools have prospered, according to Clark, because the research realm is a massively differentiated sector; some fifty to one hundred institutions exist in which the German university idea has evolved to its modern day generic form of the "graduate department university."

    In Part Two, Clark argues that the universal problem facing research and advanced learning institutions in the future is "drift." In Germany, professors move research and an elite core of students out of the university context to alternative and far-flung sites. Advanced study is "curriculum poor" and "relatively unsystematized" (p. 55). In the United States, where teaching drift is most acute in Clark's view, mass access to postsecondary education causes certain institutions, programs within universities, graduate departments, degree levels, and even personnel to be removed from research. According to Clark, most master's degree and professional-degree students in the United States are neither trained for nor involved in research. Nevertheless, Clark identifies conditions in higher education that "counter fragmentation and uphold integration" (p. 192) of the research-teaching-study nexus and offer hope for change: differentiation of institutions into research and nonresearch sectors, which permits concentration on both research and advanced education; institutional competition and the drive for research-based prestige; modern-day versions of the unity principle that insist on training grounded in research; and, most importantly, separate instruction at the graduate level supported with flexible funding.

    Overall, faculty and administrators in higher education concerned with training advanced students, as well as those generally concerned with higher education policy, should find Clark's approach to the imperatives of teaching and research refreshing. Unlike those contemporary critics of higher education in the United States who would reform undergraduate education by reducing the emphasis on research and research training, Clark proposes a model of modern higher education in which research, teaching, and student learning are compatible and complementary.

    M.G.C.
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    Book Notes

    Moral Development
    Edited by Bill Puka

    Places of Inquiry
    By Burton R. Clark

    Teaching and Learning in History
    Edited by Gaea Leinhardt, Isabel L. Beck, and Catherine Stainton.

    School-Based Management
    Edited by Susan Albers Mohrman and Priscilla Wohlstetter.

    Developing Home-School Partnerships
    By Susan McAllister Swap

    Over the Ivy Walls
    By Patricia Gandara

    Composition as a Cultural Practice
    By Alan W. France

    Fugitive Cultures
    By Henry Giroux

    A New Generation of Evidence
    Edited by Anne Henderson and Nancy Berla.

    Mother-Work
    By Molly Ladd-Taylor.

    Beyond Tracking
    Edited by Harbison Pool and Jane A. Page

    School-Community Connections
    Edited by Leo C. Rigsby, Maynard C. Reynolds, and Margaret C. Wang.

    Bird by Bird
    By Anne Lamott

    The International Education Quotations Encyclopaedia
    Edited by Keith Allan Noble

    Learning from Strangers
    By Robert S. Weiss