Economists and Higher Learning in the Nineteenth Century: Breaking the American Mold

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9781560006565: Economists and Higher Learning in the Nineteenth Century: Breaking the American Mold
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Many economists who struggled to establish a secure place for their discipline in American universities in the nineteenth century made significant contributions to reshaping American academic life in general. Yet, they were often at war among themselves as they sought to define the mission and methods of economics in an era of social and intellectual ferment.

This volume represents the contribution of American scholars to a multinational research project on the institutionalization of political economy in European, Japanese, and North American universities. It includes case studies of divergent experiences of fourteen institutions that figured prominently in the molding of American culture: William & Mary, The University of Virginia, South Carolina College, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, The University of Pennsylvania, The University of Chicago, The University of California, Stanford, The University of Wisconsin, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These are supplemented in an essay by A. W. Coats on the turbulent early decades of the American Economic Association.

In this new introduction, Barber takes note of the fact that in a somewhat different context and with a modified rhetoric the same issues present themselves today as they did one hundred years earlier. And this in turn introduces some troubling concerns about just what sort of science economics is, and was. The volume as a whole can be read as reflections on the troubled status of the discipline of economics as it now exists in American university and research contexts. It provides fresh perspectives on the development of social science and economic thought and on the history of higher education in the United States. As such it will be of very great interest to professional economists, students of higher education, and those for whom the life of American ideas holds a central place.

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About the Author:

William J. Barber is the Andrews Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University. He is also the author of From new Era to New Deal, British Economic Thought and India: 1600-1858, A History of Economic Thought, and The Economy of British Central Africa.

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"A fascinating account of the emergence of the economics profession as well as higher learning in America."

—J.E. Sullivan, Choice

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