Science, Democracy, and the American University: From the Civil War to the Cold War

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9781107027268: Science, Democracy, and the American University: From the Civil War to the Cold War

This book reinterprets the rise of the natural and social sciences as sources of political authority in modern America. Andrew Jewett demonstrates the remarkable persistence of a belief that the scientific enterprise carried with it a set of ethical values capable of grounding a democratic culture -- a political function widely assigned to religion. The book traces the shifting formulations of this belief from the creation of the research universities in the Civil War era to the early Cold War years. It examines hundreds of leading scholars who viewed science not merely as a source of technical knowledge, but also as a resource for fostering cultural change. This vision generated surprisingly nuanced portraits of science in the years before the military-industrial complex and has much to teach us today about the relationship between science and democracy.

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Book Description:

This book fundamentally reinterprets the role of science in American culture by focusing on the political views of natural and social scientists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of them, rather than uncritically supporting modern capitalism and the bureaucratic state, instead hoped to empower the public to take control of these new forms of social power. Today's view of science as strictly value-neutral, and thus capable of informing an expert-centered mode of governance, took firm hold only with the coming of the Cold War.

About the Author:

Andrew Jewett is Associate Professor of History and of Social Studies at Harvard University, where he also participates in the History of American Civilization and Science, Technology, and Society graduate programs and has co-led a year-long fellowship program on "The Politics of Knowledge in Universities and the State" for the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley and previously taught at Yale University, Vanderbilt University and New York University and held fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation and the Cornell Society for the Humanities. His work has appeared in such journals as Modern Intellectual History, Social Science History, and Daedalus.

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