Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America by Donald N. LevinePowers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America by Donald N. Levine

Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America

byDonald N. Levine

Paperback | September 15, 2007

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 204 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


It is one thing to lament the financial pressures put on universities, quite another to face up to the poverty of resources for thinking about what universities should do when they purport to offer a liberal education. In Powers of the Mind, former University of Chicago dean Donald N. Levine enriches those resources by proposing fresh ways to think about liberal learning with ideas more suited to our times. 

He does so by defining basic values of modernity and then considering curricular principles pertinent to them. The principles he favors are powers of the mind—disciplines understood as fields of study defined not by subject matter but by their embodiment of distinct intellectual capacities. To illustrate, Levine draws on his own lifetime of teaching and educational leadership, while providing a marvelous summary of exemplary educational thinkers at the University of Chicago who continue to inspire.  Out of this vital tradition, Powers of the Mind constructs a paradigm for liberal arts today, inclusive of all perspectives and applicable to all settings in the modern world.

Donald N. Levine is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he served as dean of the College from 1982 to 1987. He is the author of several books, including Visions of the Sociological Tradition,The Flight from Ambiguity, and Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture.
Title:Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in AmericaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:318 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:September 15, 2007Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226475549

ISBN - 13:9780226475547

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

Prologue: Missing Resources in Higher Education

Part I. Crises of Liberal Learning in the Modern World

1. The Place of Liberal Learning
            Sites of Secondary Enculturation
            The Modernity Revolutions
            Liberal Education Encounters Modernity
2 The Movement for General Education
            Fallout from the Modernity Revolutions
            Quest for a New Common Learning

Part II. Enter Chicago

3. The Making of a Curricular Tradition
            Enter Chicago
            Forming and Nurturing a Tradition
            Themes of the Chicago Tradition
            The Chicago Tradition of Liberal Learning
4. Dewey and Hutchins at Chicago
            Dewey as Educator
            Hutchins as an Unwitting (?) Deweyan
            The Hutchins-Dewey Debate
5. Richard McKeon: Architecton of Human Powers
            Entering the Fray
            Changing the Humanities Course
            Reconfiguring the Liberal Curriculum
            The Return in the 1960s
            McKeon as Teacher
6. Joseph Schwab's Assault on Facile Teaching
            Genesis of an Educator
            Transforming the Natural Science Curriculum
            Transforming Classroom Pedagogy
            Transforming Pedagogy through Examinations
            Transforming Educational Systems
            Pluralistic Thoughtways and Communal Practice
            Schwab and the Chicago Tradition
7. What Is Educational about the Study of Civilizations?
            "Civilization" in Educational Discourse
            Civilizational Studies at Chicago
            So, What Is Educational about the Study of Civilizations?

Part III. Reinventing Liberal Education in Our Time

8. New Goals for the Liberal Curriculum   
            Contested Principles for the Liberal Curriculum
            Choosing a Path
9. Goals for the Liberal Curriculum I: Powers of Prehension 
            Audiovisual Powers
            Kinesthetic Powers
            Understanding Verbal Texts
            Understanding Worlds
10. Goals for the Liberal Curriculum II: Powers of Expression
            Forming a Self
            Inventing Statements, Problems, and Actions
            Integrating Knowledge
11. New Ways of Framing Pedagogy       
            Modalities of Teaching and Learning
            From "Teaching" to Teaching Powers
            A Repertoire of Teaching Forms
            Approaches to Testing
12. My Experiments in Teaching Powers
            Searching for Disciplines
            Basic Practice
            Disciplines as Ways of Getting into Conversations
            Disciplines as Ways of Connecting Conversations

Epilogue: The Fate of Liberal Learning
Appendix: Three Syllabi for Teaching Powers at Chicago

Editorial Reviews

"A truly significant book-both timely and timeless. Liberal education is challenged by the commercialism and indeed commodification of the university, exacerbated by growing aimlessness. In "Powers of the Mind," Donald Levine recenters the necessary conversation about the reconstruction of liberal education by reflecting on its best traditions in the context of its present situation and mission. It's hard to say which is more thrilling: the sweep and originality of Levine's narrative about the history of liberal education at the University of Chicago or his own pedagogical and curricular prescriptions, based on a lifetime of engaged teaching, learning, and administrative leadership."--Mark D. Jacobs, George Mason University