A Larger Sense of Purpose: Higher Education and Society

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, Feb 9, 2009 - Education - 208 pages
1 Review

Universities were once largely insular institutions whose purview extended no further than the campus gates. Not anymore. Today's universities have evolved into multifaceted organizations with complex connections to government, business, and the community. This thought-provoking book by Harold Shapiro, former president of both Princeton University and the University of Michigan, and Chairman of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission under President Bill Clinton, explores the role the modern university should play as an ethical force and societal steward.

Based on the 2003 Clark Kerr lectures, A Larger Sense of Purpose draws from Shapiro's twenty-five years of experience leading major research universities and takes up key topics of debate in higher education. What are the nature and objectives of a liberal education? How should universities address the increasing commercialization not only of intercollegiate sports but of education and research? What are the university's responsibilities for the moral education of students?

The book begins with an expanded history of the modern research institution followed by essays on ethics, the academic curriculum, the differences between private and public higher education, the future of intellectual property rights, and the changing relationship between the nation's universities and the for-profit sector. Shapiro calls for universities to be more accountable morally as well as academically. He urges scientists not only to educate others about the potential and limitations of science but also to acknowledge the public's distress over the challenges presented by the very success of the scientific enterprise. He advocates for a more intimate connection between professional training and the liberal arts--in the hope that future doctors, lawyers, and business executives will be educated in ethics and the social sciences as well as they are in anatomy, torts, and leveraged buyouts.

Candid, timely, and provocative, A Larger Sense of Purpose demands the attention of not only those in academics but of anyone who shares an interest in the soul of education.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

As a Coast Guard Recruiter,
I was censured and banned from his campus.
So I wrote the following to welcome a student to the CG Academy, [some parts missing].
I have been censured and banned from princeton, so invited the president, and here he is,,
he is 3 inches tall,, and i am going to set him up on my shoulder and tell him a story about
some people that defended "HIS FREEDOM OF SPEECH"
the day after pear harbor was attacked,, the japanese attacked wake island,
they thought it would take 3 hours for the island to fall, but the marines on the island fought back.
with a few planes and a couple salvaged guns,, they sank a battleship and held off the task force.
by this time the fighting was hand to hand on the beach,, and the u s navy had to tell the marines,
"you are now on your own, but, is there anything the navy can do for the marines?"
and the marine commander responded: SEND MORE JAPANESE! hehe
the next is about the biggest star in hollywood and Princeton Graduate.
he volunteered for the army air corps and soon became commander of his squadron ,,
and as such,, he could have commanded those missions from his desk,,
instead, the biggest star in hollywood strapped in,, and lead, 25 missions over europe
from the lead bomber. when the odds of surviving those missions, was slim, to none.
Jimmy Stewart......................................................................................................
[i was dissapointed with a ban on gays in the military,, but i was MORE DISSAPOINTED
with the president of princeton for his CENSORSHIP. i guess i thought a little more of you
and your institution,, the day BEFORE you took that action..


The University and Society
The Transformation of the Antebellum College From Right Thinking to Liberal Learning
Liberal Education Liberal Democracy and the Soul of the University
Some Ethical Dimensions of Scientfic Progress

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Harold T. Shapiro served as President of the University of Michigan (1979-1988) and as President of Princeton University (1988-2001). He is currently Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton. The coeditor of Universities and Their Leadership (Princeton), he served as chair of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission from July 1996 to October 2001, and from 1990 to 1992 as a member and vice chair of President George Bush's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Bibliographic information