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History and Context of Graduate Education
LSTD 5003 – 200
Myrissa Weeks
University of Oklahoma

As we begin our graduate degrees, I believe it is very important for us to understand how and where the tradition originated. The foundation of the American higher education system is derived from the original ideology of European education. Two Greek pioneers of tutelage, Plato and Aristotle, established the Academy in 387 BC and the Lyceum in 335 BC, respectively (University of Oklahoma, 2015). Over the next few centuries there were significant developments in Palestine, Babylonia, India, China, and Egypt. Jewish, Buddhist, and Islamic religions each had their own educational institutions founded during this time, and were equally important in the expansion of graduate studies. The development of universities in Western Europe began when groups of students flocked from their home countries to various locations to witness instructors lecture about specific topics. Numerous universities were established in Europe during the 12th century. England, Germany, Bohemia, and Poland each had the inauguration of their first university. The primary model for European institutions originated from the basis of the University of Paris, which became the central establishment for the studies of philosophy and theology (University of Oklahoma, 2015). In Italy the University of Bologna became known for the study of law and the University of Salerno became renowned for the study of medicine. Future universities in Italy and Spain modeled their institutions after the University of Bologna (University of Oklahoma, 2015). In general, medieval universities were comprised of males only; no females were granted admission. Medieval institutions offered trivium and quadrivium curricula, setting a precedence for modern liberal arts education. The Renaissance introduced the idea of humanism in education. Scholars were more interested in what literature said about life on Earth rather than what was mentioned about religion. This, however, changed after the Protestant Reformation. During the 16th century religious doctrines were the focal points of academics. The Catholic and Protestant churches began to take over educational institutions, having courses emphasize the study of theology as well as training priests, ministers, lawyers, and physicians (University of Oklahoma, 2015). With the settlement of North America came new colleges and universities, accompanied by concepts from European scholarship. Each group of colonists established its own institutions that reflected those of its home country as well its idea of basic educational goals. The British used Oxford and Cambridge as models, French Catholics founded College de Jesuites as the first college in Canada, and Puritans established Harvard, which focused on ministry studies (University of Oklahoma, 2015). Scottish influences included the idea of math and science as focal studies rather than liberal arts. An American student named Benjamin Rush helped start the College of Philadelphia after studying medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland. Other colleges and universities established during this time included the College of William and Mary, Yale, Princeton, and King’s College (now Columbia University). After the Treaty of Paris in 1783 made the independence of the United States official, state colleges began to emerge. Schools including the University of Georgia, the University of North Carolina, the University of Tennessee, and the University of South Carolina were established. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson disagreed with the way higher education was being run and believed that institutions should not be controlled by churches. Rather, they should be publically controlled and secular. Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819 (University of Oklahoma, 2015). Modern and scientific studies were incorporated into the curriculum, but traditional and... Show More

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