A Widening Sphere: Evolving Cultures at MIT

Hardcover | February 25, 2011

byPhilip N. Alexander

not yet rated|write a review

MIT was founded in 1861 as a polytechnic institute in Boston's Back Bay, overshadowed by its neighbor across the Charles River, Harvard University. Harvard offered a classical education to young men ofAmerica's ruling class; the early MIT trained men (and a few women) from all parts of society as engineers for the nation's burgeoning industries. Over theyears, MIT expanded its mission and ventured into other fields -- pure science, social science, the humanities -- and established itself in Cambridge as Harvard's enduring rival. In A Widening Sphere, Philip Alexander traces MIT's evolution from polytechnic to major research institution through the lives of its first nine presidents, exploring how the ideas, outlook, approach, and personality of each shaped the school's intellectual and social cultures. Alexander describes, among otherthings, the political skill and entrepreneurial spirit of founder and first president, William Rogers; institutional growing pains under John Runkle; Francis Walker's campaign to broaden the curriculum, especially in the social sciences, and to recruit first-rate faculty; James Crafts, whose heart lay in research, not administration; Henry Pritchett's thwarted effort to merge with Harvard (after which he decamped to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching); Richard Maclaurin's successful strategy to move the institute to Cambridge, after considering other sites (including a golfclub in Brighton); the brilliant, progressive Ernest Nichols, who succumbed to chronic illness and barely held office; Samuel Stratton's push towards a global perspective; and Karl Compton's vision for a new kind of Institute -- a university polarized around science and technology. Through these interlocking yet independent portraits, Alexander reveals the inner workings of a complex and dynamic community of innovators.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$40.50

In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25

From the Publisher

MIT was founded in 1861 as a polytechnic institute in Boston's Back Bay, overshadowed by its neighbor across the Charles River, Harvard University. Harvard offered a classical education to young men ofAmerica's ruling class; the early MIT trained men (and a few women) from all parts of society as engineers for the nation's burgeoning i...

Philip N. Alexander is a Research Associate in the Programin Writing and Humanistic Studies at MIT.

other books by Philip N. Alexander

Tori Black 26 Success Facts - Everything you need to know about Tori Black
Tori Black 26 Success Facts - Everything you need to kn...

Paperback|Aug 2 2014

$39.24 online$44.50list price
The Production Of The Printed Catalogue; The Preparation, Printing, And Publication Of Catalogues…
The Production Of The Printed Catalogue; The Preparatio...

Paperback|Jan 28 2013

$23.29 online$23.95list price
see all books by Philip N. Alexander
Format:HardcoverDimensions:520 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.06 inPublished:February 25, 2011Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262015633

ISBN - 13:9780262015639

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of A Widening Sphere: Evolving Cultures at MIT

Reviews

Extra Content

Editorial Reviews

[Alexander's] highly readable new book is remarkable for the human interest that colors the institutional history...The author has an uncanny knack for unearthing and encapsulating telling details. The book achieves exactly the right blend of technical explanation and anecdote.