The New Yorker reviews Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University (Amazon.com, Amazon.de) by William Clark, a historian who "has spent his academic career at both American and European universities. Clark thinks that the modern university, with its passion for research, prominent professors, and, yes, black crêpe, took shape in Germany in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And he makes his case with analytic shrewdness, an exuberant love of archival anecdote, and a wry sense of humor." (HT: Chris, who blogs at Edit Copy.)
Likewise, Louis Menand's Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Metaphyisical Club: The Story of Ideas in America (Amazon.com, Amazon.de) describes how important German universities were in creating graduate studies in the United States. From Dialog International's review:
The first graduate school was established at Johns Hopkins University and was modeled after the University of Heidelberg. Nearly every serious scholar in America made a pilgrimage to the great universities at Heidelberg, Berlin, Leipzig and Goettingen. Of Stanford University's original 30 professors, 15 had received degrees in Germany and the school's unofficial motto which appears on its official seal is Die Luft der Freiheit weht ("the wind of freedom blows") - a quote from Ulrich von Hutten, a 16th-century humanist.
Yes. If you look at the great US universities whihc were established (or seriously reformed) between 1880 and 1910 - you see two things.
The gothis architecture was often copied from Oxford and Cambridge - but the intellectual model was taken from German universities.
The preeminence of German universities was unchallenged prior to WWI and they remained among the very best (though no longer unchallenged) until Hitler.
My impression is that they remained quite rigorous (and good) until the student revolts of the 1960's but markedly declined then.
Even so there is little doubt thta Germany's university system remains among the best in Europe today....
To my mind that is not surprising that European universities could be the model and exmple for American ones, because America is comaratevey a new state and Germany has a long history... it's obvious that in Europe they have more expirience in aducational sphere.
For sure if the first uiversity was founded in Europe it should mean something. The history of the high education on the continenet is long and full of vivid events and outstanding people. So, really it's not so surprising that America has found some ideas and tradditions to borrow from the region.
It's not a question why European universities has become the model for american ones, but it's interesting that particularly German, not french, italian, engkish ar whatever esle universities serve as an exmple... that's really surprising...