The Fragmentation of Universities

November 7, 2006

The current issue of Commonweal includes an opinion piece by Alasdair MacIntyre, a philosophy prof at Notre Dame. He argues that Roman Catholic universities should be able to provide "a less fragmented conception" of PSE, recovering the true nature of a university, instead of the "disciplines, subdisciplines, and subsubdisciplines" which have multiplied since the 19th century. Scholars have become "narrowly focused researchers who also happen to teach," providing students with little more than "a collection of bits and pieces, a specialist's grasp of this, a semispecialist's partial understanding of that, an introductory survey of something else." "Each part of the curriculum is someone’s responsibility, but no one has a responsibility for making the connections between the parts." Profs and students alike are reluctant to take risks, and focus on core curriculum required to become specialists. Commonweal