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THE PATTERN OF A UNIVERSITY J. R. NURSALL Today, the founding of universities is happenstance become style. So many young people are qualifying themselves for university education, that we can foresee and expect the intellectual boundaries of our country to spread and its resources to be magnified. In response to the demand some institutions rise slowly from pre-existing colleges, others spring new from the will of governments and their constituents. Whatever the origin, there is an opportunity that we are wise if we seize: to cast a university in a modern mould to accommodate new conditions. I shall attempt to suggest a path of development that can be followed. I Let me start with the new conditions, for these provide the background for all plans and the reasons for requiring a modern mould. The new conditions do not refer to the growing hordes of students appearing before us, but to the new attitudes of mind that are needed for survival and progress in the crass, vibrant technological world of today. Man's progress has taken him along a tangled path. The things he has seen have forced him to shed bits and pieces of his old ideas, as brambles and hedges tear the garments of any traveller along an ill-founded path. As he has gone along, man has repaired the tears and rents in his cloak of respectable understanding, but he still wears vestiges and tatters of his original coverings. Man's spiritual and conceptual raiment is indeed an odd mixture of colours and materials and it barely serves to cover him in today's tempests. It is to the renovation of these garments that we must address ourselves; not, however, to the tailoring of uniforms, as the dogmatists of any extreme might wish, but to a covering of understanding, so that a man might be comfortable in clothes of his Own cut and not compelled to criticize the choices of others. That is a long and involved metaphor, but it says that man must keep up with the times, for man has made the times. Man has always sought to find where he stood in the world. Often he has had to invent explanaVolume XXXIV, Number 4, July, 1965 THE PATTERN OF A U N IVERSITY 333 tions for things, the mystery of which he could not penetrate, and these explanations have become the superstitions of succeeding generations, despite increasing understanding on the part of the intellectual leaders of men, who press their searches on the boundaries of knowledge. There must always be the few who know more than the many; we can advance in no other way. But there must always be the mechanism whereby that which is new is transmitted to all those who can understand it and everyone must have advantage of what is known, however it is pOSSible. There is so much knowledge now that there is the danger that most men will abandon the effort to keep up with it, and fall back on superstition and catchwords to explain the unknown to themselves. This is what a university, as a propagator of understanding, cannot allow to happen. Let us recognize that the evils that men do are largely the evils of ignorance promulgated in the incomplete knowledge of what lesser men will do in their greater ignorance. In all this new conditions are applicable. The tremendous advances in science during the last twenty years, and the vast numbers of people now engaged in this activit)" are having their effect upon the establishment of new outlooks, new atmospheres of understanding, and new ways of approaching the unknown in all of man's endeavours. Here I am refelTing to the fundamental advances of science, rather than the more show), but less important changes that are occurring in technology, which themselves are dependent on scientific advance, but which in turn also aid in the making of fundamental advances. The new methods and modes and their effects must be laid open to the understanding of as many people as possible so their benefits can be not only used but also appreciated. The university must relate these advances to the well-being and spiritual needs of mankind...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 332-348
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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