The Public Interest

Crisis in the university?

Robert Nisbet

Winter 1968

Is there one? Quite a few intellectuals think so, but this in itself is not a sure guide. Intellectuals are often prone to see “crisis” in circumstances that for other persons merely range from good to bad, desirable to undesirable. In medicine, a crisis is the point in a disease where what follows is either recovery or death. In politics, crisis is the point in the career of a specific government where what follows is either downfall or renewed strength. Some degree of precision attaches to the word in these uses. But what is meant when “crisis” is applied to, say, modern culture, democracy, religion, the family, Western civilization - or higher education?

Download a PDF of the full article.



from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.