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Humaniora: Fra «lærdomskultur» til «forskersamfunn»

f.w.thue@iakh.uio.no

Postdoktor ved Institutt for arkeologi, konservering og historie, Universitetet i Oslo

Hva er humanioras primære oppgave: å frembringe nyttig kunnskap eller å hjelpe unge mennesker til et rikere liv? Fra 1960-årene fulgte norske humanister samme strategi som sine kolleger i naturvitenskapene: de utnyttet utdannings-eksplosjonen til å styrke seg som forskere istedenfor å utbre sine verdier og kunnskaper i samfunnet. Slik søkte man å etterlikne amerikanernes suksesshistorie i høyere utdanning – men glemte deres liberal arts colleges.

Cultures of Learning

The article discusses the changing «social contract» of the Norwegian humanities in a historical perspective. Up to the 1960s, the humanistic university disciplines formed part of a tightly knit professional circuit of learning in Norwegian society: The primary function of the Faculty of Arts was to educate teachers for the Gymnasium, and the (re-)production of academic scholarship was largely a surplus of this educational task. This largely corresponded to how the German Philosophische Fakultäten operated in the 19th century, while also paralleling to some extent the way in which academic humanistic scholarship related to the liberal arts colleges in the United States. The student boom of the 1960s and the following rapid growth of academic staffs gradually undermined this system. Instead of introducing liberal arts education in Norway to meet the increased demand for higher education among the middle classes, as some scholars and politicians suggested, the academic community and the State unified around another strategy: to professionalize academic research and loosen the bonds between higher and secondary education. Hence, research rather than education and character formation has become the primary justification of academic scholarship. To the humanities, it is argued, this strategy has proved a mixed blessing.

Keywords: Humanities, higher education, liberal arts education, university history
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