Title The Instrumental University
Subtitle Education in Service of the National Agenda after World War II
Author Ethan Schrum
ISBN 9781501736643
List price GBP 38.00
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Hardbound
No of pages 312
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher Cornell University Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
About the book Send Enquiry


“Ethan Schrum addresses fundamental features of modern universities and, in that respect, this book could be the basis for a symposium. It is an important contribution to intellectual history, the history of social sciences, and the history of higher education.”

Roger Geiger, The Pennsylvania State University, and author of The History of American Higher Education


“Ethan Schrum has given us by far the most informative and convincing study we now have of the history of American universities since World War II. This conscientiously documented, morally sensitive book deserves to be the center of the coming generation’s debates about what universities can and should be.”

David Hollinger, University of California, Berkeley


“Ethan Schrum offers a sweeping, persuasive account of American universities. His book shows just how many leaders found new uses for the postwar American university—and the intellectual traditions they invoked to do so. Essential reading for historians and those who care about the state and purposes of American universities today.”

David C. Engerman, Yale University


“Ethan Schrum has written a timely and necessary book, challenging many of our presumptions about higher education’s postwar ‘golden age’ and persuasively demonstrating why these institutions must be placed at the center of modern America’s political and economic history. Written with verve and researched with deep rigor, this is essential reading.”

Margaret O’Mara, University of Washington


In The Instrumental University, Ethan Schrum provides an illuminating genealogy of the educational environment in which administrators, professors, and students live and work today. After World War II, research universities in the United States underwent a profound mission change. The Instrumental University combines intellectual, institutional, and political history to reinterpret postwar American life through the changes in higher education.

Acknowledging but rejecting the prevailing conception of the Cold War university largely dedicated to supporting national security, Schrum provides a more complete and contextualized account of the American research university between 1945 and 1970. Uncovering a pervasive instrumental understanding of higher education during that era, The Instrumental University shows that universities framed their mission around solving social problems and promoting economic development as central institutions in what would soon be called the knowledge economy. In so doing, these institutions took on more capitalistic and managerial tendencies and, as a result, marginalized founding ideals, such as pursuit of knowledge in academic disciplines and freedom of individual investigators.

The technocratic turn eroded some practices that made the American university special. Yet, as Schrum suggests, the instrumental university was not yet the neoliberal university of the 1970s and onwards in which market considerations trumped all others. University of California president Clark Kerr and other innovators in higher education were driven by a progressive impulse that drew on an earlier tradition grounded in a concern for the common good and social welfare.


Introduction: The Instrumental University and American Modernity 

Chapter 1. The Progressive Roots of the Instrumental University: Public Administration, City Planning, and Industrial Relations

Chapter 2. Clark Kerr: Leading Proponent of the Instrumental University

Chapter 3. The Urban University as Community Service Institution: Pennsylvania in the Era of Gaylord P. Harnwell

Chapter 4. “Instruments of Technical Cooperation”: American Universities’ Institution Building Abroad

Chapter 5. A Use of the University of Michigan: Samuel P. Hayes Jr. and Economic Development 

Chapter 6. Founding the University of California at Irvine: High Modern Social Science and Technocratic Public Policy

Epilogue: Critics of the Instrumental University




About the Author:

Ethan Schrum is Assistant Professor of History at Azusa Pacific University, and an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

Target Audience:

This book is useful for people interested in education, sociology and American studies.


Special prices are applicable to the authorised sales territory only.
Prices are subject to change without prior notice.