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ERIC Number: EJ991535
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan-21
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
A British Intellectual Pioneers a New Model for College
Labi, Aisha
Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan 2013
This article profiles A.C. Grayling, a British intellectual who pioneers a new model for college. In his role as founder of the New College of the Humanities, Britain's newest and most controversial institution of higher education, A.C. Grayling could have chosen among several titles. The senior academic officer at most English higher-education institutions is known as vice chancellor, with a few rectors and a provost and a president or two in the mix. In Scotland, the customary title is principal. Mr. Grayling, however, has opted for master, an honorific with long antecedents at the colleges that make up England's two oldest universities, Oxford and Cambridge. In June 2011, Mr. Grayling announced his intention to establish the New College of the Humanities, with the involvement--and investment--of a handful of fellow academic celebrities. His goal was to bridge what he sees as the growing gap between higher education and the needs of contemporary society. Though his concerns are echoed by many other critics of mainstream universities, both in Britain and elsewhere, his solution is unique. Unlike so many other recent ventures, Mr. Grayling's attempt to devise a new higher-education paradigm for the 21st century is rooted in the American liberal-arts model and the individualized tutorial system that once prevailed at Oxford and Cambridge. "This is a college for the humanities," he says, and its emphasis on the study of philosophy, history, literature, law, and economics is designed to provide its students with the intellectual equipment that will enable them to organize ideas and muster arguments, even in the face of challenges that "we can't even envisage yet." In marrying those fundamentals of American liberal-arts education to the rigorous training that the classic tutorial system provides, Mr. Grayling says his goal is to create what is sometimes called the T-shaped thinker, one with both breadth and depth. The premise seems simple enough and, especially for an American audience, relatively uncontroversial. But when Mr. Grayling announced what he was planning, there was an outcry. Critics, calling the venture a vanity exercise, accused him of selling a bill of goods to a set of rich kids and undermining the rest of British higher education while he was at it.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom; United Kingdom (London)