Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

7/1/2014 - 8/31/2014

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

From Goettingen to Boston and Back: The German Influence on American Universities

FAIN: FT-61954-14

Heinz-Dieter Meyer
SUNY Research Foundation, Albany (Albany, NY 12222-0001)

As Americans confronted the need to take the country's higher education from a pre-colonial system of sprawling, sectarian colleges to the modern research university, they faced numerous questions of how to design that new institution. In answering those questions the thousands of elite young Americans who returned from studies at the German university played a key role. By analyzing the departures of American academic institutions from the German model from the perspective of historical and cultural new institutionalism, the book affords a view into the black box of how crucial innovations in the institutional structure of the American university emerged. It affords lessons on today's far flung efforts to build 'world class' institutions in higher education.

Media Coverage

REVIEW OF Heinz-Dieter Meyer, The Design of the University: German, American, and 'World Class' (Review)
Author(s): Krassimir Stojanov
Publication: Education Philosophy and Theory
Date: 12/28/2017
Abstract: review of "Design of the University: German, American, and 'World Class'" in academic journal
URL: http://

REVIEW OF The Design of the University (Universitaet in der Gesellschaft: Design, Idee, Realitaet, einer unentbehrlichen Institution) (Review)
Date: 10/26/2017

REVIEW "The Design of the University: German, American, 'World Class'" (Review)
Author(s): Robert Cowen
Publication: Comparative Education
Date: 8/3/2017
URL: http://

Associated Products

The Design of the University: German, American, and 'World Class' (Book)
Title: The Design of the University: German, American, and 'World Class'
Author: Heinz-Dieter Meyer
Abstract: What is the reason for the American university’s global preeminence? How did the American university succeed where the development of the German university, of which it learned so much, stalled? What can those who like to see their universities achieve "world class" status learn from the American model?—In this closely argued book Heinz-Dieter Meyer suggests that the key to the American university’s success is its institutional design of self-government. Where other university systems are dependent on the patronage of state, church, or market, the American university is the first to achieve true autonomy--and it has done so not by insulating itself against the world, but through an intricate system of engagements with societal actors and institutions that simultaneously act as amplifiers of its impact and as checks on the university’s ever-present corrosive tendencies. Built on a searching analysis of the design thinking of Wilhelm von Humboldt and Adam Smith (whose pioneering work on academic design has to date been largely neglected), and closely tracing the learning process by which Americans adapted the German model, the book is an antidote to facile (and most certainly futile) efforts to copy superficial features of the American university in efforts to achieve world class rank, as well as an argument to pay close attention to the design detail of the university and the particulars of its institutional environment, especially the institutions of the civil society. The book closes on a cautionary note that the conditions of the American university’s success are currently at risk.
Year: 2017
Publisher: Routledge
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-1-138-8025
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes