Графични страници
PDF файл

constant practice in inductive reasoning, because he must constantly employ it in his profession. We believe that biology should be made prominent, because it furnishes at least as good a subject for teaching inductive methods as any other science, and has the additional advantage of giving information which must be of value in broadening the student's views of life and better fitting him for the minute study of its highest form.

In many of our colleges biology is an elective subject, standing in this respect on a common footing with the other sciences. Under existing circumstances many things may influence the student in his selection, but it is usually found that biology attracts quite its fair share of students. With the difficulty of avoiding an overcrowding of subjects in a college course, as well as with the claims of other sciences for recogni. tion, we have here no concern. With regard to the claim of biology to a place in any liberal course we adopt the words of Professor Huxley:

Leave out the physiological sciences from your curriculum, and you launch the student into the world undisciplined in that science whose subject matter would best develop the powers of observation; igporant of facts of the deepest importance for his own and others' welfare; blind to the richest sources of beauty in God's creation; and unprovided with that belief in a living law, and an order manifesting itself in and through endless change and variety, which might serve to check and moderate that phase of despair through which, if he take an earnest interest in social problems, he will assuredly sooner or later páss



If we take but a hasty glance over the many institutions of the country having the ambitious title University, the question strongly suggests itself with regard to a large number of them, Whence comes their right to the name? How do they differ from institutions that are content to rank merely as colleges? How are they better equipped for work, and how do their aims and characters differ? We find the name given to institutions which have but small faculties, inadequate equipments, and one or two prescribed courses leading to the ordinary bachelor degrees, with sometimes additional courses in law and medicine; but a study of the catalogues of such institutions usually shows that they have neither faculties nor equipment adequate to do the work which they profess to do. As Ex-President A. D. White remarks:

While at one end of the system we have institutions like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, the Universities of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and others bearing the names of States, with Johns Hopkins, Cornell, and Tulane, each of them, as a rule, expending several hundred thousand dollars a year, and showing that it can not meet the demands upon it even with these great sums, we have at the other end, and indeed throughout the greater part of the mass, institutions claiming to do university work with an entire invested endowment less than the smallest of the sums annually used by either of the institutions above named.

Table 1 is constructed to show something as to the size and character of American universities.


If we limit our conception of a university to those institutions which "strive to represent and embody the totality of human knowledge, and to find room for all forms of intellectual activity,” we will find that a large number of our universities fall so far below this mark as to be scarcely worth considering. If we endeavor to set up an ideal of university work, to determine what is the real nature of the work of universities as opposed to that of the colleges, we meet with this difficulty, that we have no fixed standard by which the province of the university can be judged. The boundary line has not been sharply drawn in practice, for any one constructed in theory is constantly crossed from both sides.

If we turn to foreign countries to study their ideas of university work we are but little better off. In England we fail totally to distinguish between the colleges and the universities. Their work is one and the




[ocr errors]

same. The colleges make the university. Moreover, still further from

. our own ideas are those boards of examiners which call themselves universities, but which furnish no teaching. In this connection a quotation from Cardinal Newman is of interest:

A university in its simple and rudimental form is a school of knowledge of every kind, consisting of teachers and learners from every quarter. Many things are requisite to complete and satisfy the idea embodied in this description; but such a university seems to be in its essence a place for the communication and circulation of thought by means of personal intercourse through a wide extent of country.

It is the place to which a thousand schools make contributions; in which the intellect may safely range and speculate, sure to find its equal in some antagonistic activity, and its judge in the tribunal of truth. It is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed by the collision of mind with mind and knowledge with knowledge.

Turning to Germany we find a closer resemblance to our own system, so far, at least, as the gymnasium answers to what our colleges were up to a short time ago. There the university courses are planned upon the assumption that students have had the preliminary training afforded by the gymnasium, to which they form the logical conclusion. The one leading characteristic of German university work, so far as can be stated, is its extreme specialization, even within the limits of a single subject. As a result of this we find the German universities noted for a degree of productiveness that is not attained under any other system. Even the smallest of them is actively engaged in adding to knowledge, and every student who enters their gates is supposed to be ready to begin work of this character. During his connection with the university original research occupies the greater part of his time, while his general culture, even in his own department, depends more upon his individual efforts.

Attempting to measure our American universities by these standards, we find that many of them fall far below. While our own conditions are peculiar, and while it necessarily follows that the American university, being the product of American ideas and conditions, must be to a great extent different from those of other lands, still it remains for the future to show just what the American university will be and how it is to be adapted to the needs of the age. In one point, at least, the character of university work is already clearly defined, for we notice that original research of some kind constitutes a large part of the work of every institution with any ambition and at all deserving of the name university. In this respect we see a strong leaning toward German models, which is readily understood when we remember how many of our own college and university professors are graduates of German universities.

If we consider original work to be the only or even the leading function of the university we make a grave mistake, for it is admitted in all countries that a university should be a great center of instruction. Here we find the greatest difficulties in deciding between the scope of college and university work. We must bear in mind the conflicting claims of different departments of knowledge in attempting to arrange symmetrical college courses, but in the university we must offer every. thing that a student could wish to follow. On the one hand, work must be well rounded, general, and disciplinary in tendency, while on the other, the greatest freedom of choice must be allowed. Specialization is here a matter of necessity, but there is reason to believe that the intense specialization in a single department, so common in the German universities, will be largely counterbalanced by work of a more general character in the best American institutions. *

But a university must keep pace with the growth of knowledge and make the most thorough provision for instruction of the most special kind. To this end specialization on the part of faculties must increase. The time was when university work in biology might have been directed by one or two men. Now a university could scarcely regard itself as fully equipped for biological research without at least six full professors and a considerable number of assistants. Vertebrate and

a invertebrate morphology can hardly be intrusted to the same hands, and the same is true of phænogamic and cryptogamic botany, as well as animal and vegetable physiology, to say nothing of other subjects equally important, and if universities are to provide for all subjects on such a scale as this, it is at once evident that the matter of expense will become very great, perhaps even greater than the resources of the largest and wealthiest institution can stand. How this difficulty will be met is one of the matters for the future to decide, but even at present we see evidences of a disposition on the part of some to restrict the number of departments in which instruction is furnished, but maintain the greatest possible thoroughness in each one of them. President Hall, of Clark University, thus expresses himself on this point:

Each science has become so vast and manifold that it is impossible to cultivate the frontier of all at a single university. This is more and more recognized abroad, and is still more true under our American system of private endowment than on the European plan with a national treasury to draw from. If coming universities instead of imitating will supplement others, will elect each its group of studies, all the gain in economy and effectiveness which skilled labor has over unskilled will be secured in the field of highest education.

A few years ago it would have been difficult to show why the name university should be applied to any one of our American institutions.

* It would be foreign to our present subject to criticize the possible failures of the German system to secure the best results in preparing men to teach biology under American conditions as they now exist. We here note only one point, viz, that the development of science seems to be more highly esteemed than the symmetrical development of the individual. When we remember the small number of institutions in our own country that have or are likely soon to have more than one or two men in charge of the biological work, we see the necessity for a symmetrical training, and it may be questioned whether the training of the German system is not considerably in advance of the conditions which we now find in this country. This point will be considered further on,

Now, it is highly gratifying to see that we have several deserving of the name by reason of every test that we can apply. It is indeed flattering to our national pride to have it said by so judicious and impartial a critic as Mr. Bryce that “the great universities of the East, as well as one or two in the West, are already beginning to rival the ancient universities of Europe. They will soon have far greater funds at their command with which to move towards the same ideal as Germany set before herself; and they have already what is better than funds, an ardor and industry among the teachers which equal that displayed 50 years ago in Germany by the foremost men of the generation which raised the German schools to their glorious preëminence."*

But we are here concerned only with the biological work done by American universities, and to this end it is our task to look through the list and endeavor to find out what we can in regard to the present status of higher instruction and investigation in biology, and to determine as far as possible how such work is regarded, both by those who are themselves engaged in it, and hence fitted to speak with authority, and also by those who look from an outside position, who give biology only an equal rank with the other sciences, and who estimate scientific advancement by the intimacy of its relation to the good of humanity.


While the limits of this work will not permit any extensive survey of the workers and works of early times, still, in order to properly appreciate the research which is now going on, it is necessary to present a brief sketch of some of the more illustrious American workers whose main task was the description and classification of the flora and fauna of the United States, together with the dates of their principal works.t

The first native American who reached a prominent place as a botanist was John Bartram. While he made no descriptions of plants, his fame rests upon the fact that he discovered vast numbers of new plants, many more than any of his contemporaries. About 1730 he began to make collections and continued this work for many years.

In 1732 Mark Catesby published the first volume of his Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahamas, the second appearing in 1743. These contained descriptions of many new southern plants and birds.

* American Commonwealth, vol. 4, p. 553.

+ We are here concerned only with work done by Americans, and especially that which has had the most important influence upon the investigations of the present time. For further details in regard to this matter the reader is referred to a most admirable study by Dr. G. Brown Goode, published in three distinct articles, “The Beginnings of Natural History in America,” and “The Beginnings of American Science. The Third Century,” delivered as presidential addresses before the Biological Society of Washington, in 1886 and 1888, respectively, and “The Origin of the National Scientific and Educational Institutions of the United States.” G, P. Putnam's Sons, 1890.

« ПредишнаНапред »