WHAT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO STANDS FOR.
At the time of Princeton's celebration in 1896, one of her loyal alumni undertook to show what Princeton has stood for and stands for. "The name Princeton," he remarked, "is supposed to be synonymous with the stiffest intellectual conservatism." The philosophical temper dominates at Princeton, just as the literary spirit characterizes Harvard. If the question be asked, What the University of Chicago stands for? one may answer without hesitation, for the scientific method!
The scientific cast of mind isin the halls and laboratories of this new university of the West; or, at least, one may affirm that it is becoming so. It is due in part to the presence of so many specialists who have received their professional training in Germany and have brought back something of the German scholar's aptitude for investigative work.
Even in the Divinity School the influence of the scientific spirit is felt by both teachers and students. In the work of advanced students, as in the departments of physical science, the paramount idea or aim is the acquisition of a method by which truth may be found, and they are characterized by a willingness to go wherever truth may lead them. Theology is not the fixed thing that it was formerly imagined to be. The professed aim of the Department of Systematic Theology is "to reduce to a scientific system, and maintain on scientific principles, the teaching of Scripture in the light of such other sources of theological knowledge as enter into the progressive self-revelation of God to mankind." Mysticism is at a discount in Dr. Northrup's classrooms.
Of scholastic traditions Chicago has none as yet, but it has a certain definite purpose or policy distinct from that of the old college. The University of Chicago stands for another educational ideal.
The old college aimed to give the student a liberal education, as it is called, a wider mental horizon. Intellectual discipline was emphasized. Some good results were attained, for the man who took the four years' course was unquestionably benefited by the process. There were, however, some defects in the system. While the culture of the old college tended to make his thinking more clear-cut and logical, it did not go far enough, in that no postgraduate work was provided. Its alumni went forth into the world and, after three years of professional employment, they received the degree of A. M., without further study or even an examination.
The humanities are not neglected at the new University of Chicago—their disciplinary value is recognized and prized; but at the same time research is emphasized, and advanced students are encouraged and assisted to engage in original investigation. To enlarge the borders of knowledge is the end in view. The way chosen is through specialization. In chemistry, candidates for the much-coveted degree of Ph.D. must take two or three years of laboratory work under the supervision of a university instructor; and the thesis, embodying the results of their researches, 'must be a real contribution to knowledge.' A few sentences describing the work in geology may be quoted: