tv Book Discussion on The Founders and the Idea of a National University CSPAN May 29, 2016 1:00pm-1:21pm EDT
home decades later and then they release people on an unsuspecting society without proper skill sets, without counseling, transitional counseling and without access to employment and housing. the american public has been duped into believing that only nonviolent offenders get out of prison and that's hogwash. it's one of the tactics politicians have used to get voted into office over and over and over again. the majority of people in prison are getting out of prison. >> host: 90%. >> guest: 90% and we have a conscious choice and what kind of men and women return to our society. we have to stop warehousing people in these volatile environments and expect them to get out as healthy human beings. it doesn't matter if you go in to prison as a-- if you end up
in prison you may have to resort to violence in order to survive that experience, so for me with use that language for so long that to me it's no longer even a relevant language to use and i think we need to be honest about what's happening. we are coming home. we are getting out. we can do something to ensure that no matter what you think, that if you get out of prison, when you get out that you can get out successfully and transition in the healthiest way possible. so, my challenge is always to be honest with you mac in public and the likelihood of that happening is probably nonexistent, but this again is what makes the book so important because you get an insider's look at what happens in the system, how we can fix it, what really really works and how we can produce better outcomes.
so, the idea of nonviolent versus violent offenders is nonsense. >> host: shaka, you are an inspiration. oprah said that after she talked to you and after reading the book it was one of the most powerful conversations that she had ever had. high praise. thank you for writing this book. thank you for all of the important work that you are doing now in the effort to-- the beautiful struggle for a better involved criminal justice system again, reading this book, "writing my wrongs", made me a better person. thank you for writing it. >> guest: thank you so much. i really appreciate that. your insights into the book are really amazing and heartfelt and so i really really appreciate it i appreciate the interview and thank you for checking out the book.
>> this is the tv on c-span 2, television for serious readers and here's a quick look at our prime timeline of the scene beginning at 7:30 p.m., we will discuss how the rustbelt has become the hot spot for global innovation and on our afterwards programmatic ipm the-- we talk that the changing face of america's working-class. she is interviewed by democracy now host amy goodman. at 10:00 p.m. a book release party for steve helton spoke-- book. he's a former senior adviser to british minister david cameron and at 10:30 p.m. from california's claremont college, jonathan on his book, artist under hitler.
we wrap up book tv in prime time at 11:00 p.m. with a look at a smallpox epidemic that hit boston in 1721. that led to the first use of inoculations to slow the spread of the disease. that all happens tonight c-span 2 book tv. >> you're watching the tv on c-span 2 and on your screen is claremont mckenna government professor george thomas. is a book called the founders and the idea of national university. here's the cover pair professor thomas, was a national university? >> guest: will come in the national university was an idea put forward by a number of leading founders. many of the name she think of, george washington, james madison, benjamin franklin, thomas jefferson and the idea really in chart was that the new constitutional order created, which we take for granted in our
day was really in the process of being built and they turned to education as one central way of trying to foster in further the kind of political culture, the kind of education they thought was necessary to sustain that constitutional order. >> host: what would it look like? what we teach? >> guest: what's really unique about the idea of a national university at the time is that, i mean, first week it goes back two centuries and think what the dark educationalists institutions look like and today what we think are now institutional education, harvard, yale, princeton, that is not what they looked like at the time. at the time they were by and large parochial institutions and theology was often the organizing basis of the
curriculum and is so against that backdrop there was an idea that we had a profound dispatch between our educational institutions and the republican form of government we created. in fact, noel webster who started can't pray national university prior to the cost-- the convention said that our educational institutions are sort of remnants of an older and monarchial and democratic and we need to alter and update them in the national university was when i did that was floated as a way to alter education. >> host: so, today as you said, don't we have several national universities that are of the ilk that was discussed? >> guest: we do in large form. in fact, i started counting as i was doing the research the number of times that people when they heard about the project said don't we already have a
national university and i would quickly say harvard before someone would name yet dashiell or columbia. having those institutions these days are national in reach and they share at least some aspects of what the national university would do and certainly how they re- organize their own understanding of knowledge and the curriculum, particularly over the 19th century. it was in some ways to follow in the footsteps of those first thought of performing institutions and the curricula along those lines. actually, in the late 19th century when the idea was still floating, president charles elliott of the harvard was one of the great opponents of a national university, worried it might displace the then emerging place of harvard in the educational hierarchy and scheme, but there is i think sort of one facet that is not
clearly front center with our current institutions. there is not always front center and that's how do they speak to civic understanding, public leadership and the like. i mean, these elite educational institutions have leadership and political leadership and civic leadership of the various forms and something that is central to their mission, but they don't always self consciously think about forms of civic knowledge might be essential to public and civic leadership, something we sometimes are in short supply of. >> host: do other countries have so-called national universities? would you consider mcgill in canada? >> guest: i think other countries do and a comparative dimension is it's interesting you have a story has a national university specifically as does ireland, and they do speak to more specifically those sorts of
educational needs. i mean, the idea being that they really are there to support national political institutions. they don't necessarily work always quite enough fashion and, i mean, one of the interesting ones that was floated fairly recently along those lines is the european university institute in florence, which was initially put forward as part of the european constitutional project and that of education across europe as necessary as to supplement for gene kind of shared european identity, but they don't always work quite in conjunction and there's probably something really good about that in the way because the national university would also have problems and, i mean, those who floated the idea in america after were quite self-conscious about wanting-- even though it's supposed to be a supplement to american political institutions the idea was that we really need
to maintain independence pick you would not want to be captured by politics or partisanship in any way, so it's probably even very good to have healthy didst and said maybe we from the fact that we have educational institutions that really take care of this anymore floristic fashion these days. >> host: what was george washington's reasonings. part of it for washington and james wilson as well is the-- i mean, if you think of america at the time it was deeply important revolution particularly retrospectively and they seem to have an acute sense of the new world they were trying to bring about, but they were also really looked down upon by most europeans of the cheek or as not having the kind of cultural and educational institution you found in england or on the content, so that partly motivated washington, but
washington was also as he puts it in his farewell address and in his attempts to call for banning of national university, he was also deeply aware that republican government he said would really need to cultivate a certain kind of knowledge and that you would have to speak not just to a leadership class that self-consciously thought about this knowledge, but it is just very that for these ideas and so education for him became a way of speaking to the nation he helped create and seeing that it would carry for the american experiment and looking back, we tend to presume it's success to some degree and yet those are the founding generation and vividly aware that reforming government particularly fails and certainly they were aware of the fact that they decayed and so washington, i think, thought
of it as a way to help nurture and sustain the political order he helped create. >> host: how secretary were universities at the time? >> guest: mixed and sometimes. i mean, when you look back and think of the curriculum they often seem like they were really in the business of creating the clergy and that theology really centered-- the organization of the curriculum map knowledge generally they are. at the same time i mean most people weren't necessarily going into the clergy at the time and these were the institutions that educated based a law on enlightenment thought, so those institutions themselves are really in a process of rethinking how they treat plg in a a place that is theology and it's really ranges because you get arguments about the relationship between this-- church and state with regards to
what i really at the time public institutions that we tend to think of these as private now, but they were funded by the public first. they were educating the public in ways. they were often even founded by the public. it was just that this was a prior order word church and sit -- date were not separated and that's one of the things the family generation had to wrestle with over time. colleges over time like william and mary and dartmouth and harvard on the nature of the institution and some reformers are already arguing within those institutions that they need to be much less secretary whereas others really continue favoring sector terry and-- william and mary you have to subscribe to the 39 articles of faith. you have to be committed in religious terms. professors actually take on lights of feet per the clergy. and give mary, instance.
so it's pretty thick well into the 19th century as some of these institutions. >> host: how close did this country come to have a national university? >> guest: that truth is probably not very. there were a number of calls for it, beginning as i said before the constitutional convention. it comes up at the constitutional convention slp james madison in particular that can buy wilson. when that would be devoid of sectarian commitment and congress called a house in the senate in the '90s and said yes, yes, we support the development of art and literature and the understanding is a really much broader than say politics. this is education and sweeping terms. liberal education and knowledge in such that's really important and so there is lots of discussion and there is very
serious debates around it in the 1790s and the early 1800s, but it doesn't really ever at that) i, i mean, there is actually ground at one point given in washington dc and there is approval of funding that one starts searching through the congressional records it looks like it doesn't really happen and it comes up multiple occasions in our history. comes up in debates about the founding of what becomes the smithsonian institution, which was a request from an englishman who had never set foot on american soil and wanted to establish an educational institution. been serious debates and commerce about this, but then we end up establishing the smithsonian situation partly founded because it's not quite a national university and it comes up again after the civil war as you can imagine when we are torn by not sectarian conflict, but
sectional conflict that would help unify and we have lots of congressional hearings and debates and lots of advocates over the years, but it does every really, particularly close. >> host: as a government professor here at claremont mckenna, what is your personal feeling about a national university? >> i think it's incredibly interesting idea and one can really see why those of the late 18th century, early 19th century and on were captivated by this. we really did need to reform educational institutions. the curricula was problematic and mismatched against that emerging republican or democratic experiment. it really did remove theology am a proper place within the public sphere, so one can't see the temptation and really understand it, but i look at it-- i'm not
truly sad that it didn't develop and certainly it's date is long dead work i think it would be a good reason to support it now, but i think it's most interesting because it reminds us of two things that i think we can-- tend to forget and i think that's when we think of a public leadership class, for lack of better word that is something that does not come out of nowhere. i mean, that's something that really needs to be nurtured and sustained and that democratic institutions depend on and when we think about the ideas that citizens hold that are necessary to carry forward a democratic or republican experiment, we need to speak to those of cultivate those somewhere. i don't think they just happen out of nowhere and we often do that, but we do it in some sense
much less self-consciously than we could answer the national university idea is interesting to remind us of those features i need simply to put it briefly that political institutions set in motion's to century goat don't sustain themselves. >> host: from your book you write the formation of the national science foundation in 1947, takes up many of the tasks that would have been taken on by the national university. explained. >> guest: well, i mean, the national university, as i said, was not just about political knowledge or wasn't just about thinking about politics and government and religion. it really was an argument that a certain kind of vibrant modern commercial society would depend upon expanding knowledge and forward looking sense of
commercial and economic development. science was very much a part of that and so there was an understanding that the government might have a role in trying to foster the conditions under which scientific knowledge , knowledge of such would really thrive and the government does impart get into this business in the latter half of the 20th century mike the national science foundation, funding scientific research is a crucial part of it and if you look at the great educational institutions we have that are in the business of doing scientific research, it's exploded in the second half of the 20th century with lots of governmental grants and funding. >> host: do the military academies come close to what would be a national university? >> guest: yeah, the military academies are interesting in
that regard and really sort of speak to the subconscious mission of creating a particular kind of leadership. west point is really remarkable in that regard. and those institutions come up in the debate. i mean, thomas jefferson who helped bring west point into being also was a supportive and ashley university. although, he thought we needed a constitutional amendment to establish a national university and he speaks of west point in much the same way. although, west point port jefferson's most important scientific terms at the time and in times of the scientific developed that will come out of it. >> host: is their dissent allowed at military academies? >> guest: yes, i think. in a place like west point encouraged is maybe too strong a word, but it's a genuine liberal arts education