The Education Gospel and Vocationalism in US Higher Education: Triumphs, Tribulations, and Cautions for Other Countries

  • W. Norton Grubb
  • Marvin Lazerson
Part of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (TVET, volume 15)


The education gospel, both in the United States and in other countries, calls for increasing levels of education and orienting schools and colleges around preparation for occupations. In the United States this has led to vocationalizing the university as well as other levels of schooling. This trend over more than a century has made the American university the primary avenue for individual mobility and a crucial source of research for national and regional growth. However, these changes have also created several dilemmas for the professionalized university including the demise of liberal or general education, a number of critiques of professional education, utilitarian and narrow conceptions of education among students, the dangers of overeducation, and serious equity effects. The result is that, even though everyone wants access to the American university, no one is satisfied with it. The chapter also explores the history of American and German borrowing from one another. These have often been based on mistaken assumptions about the other country’s practices, and some current German reforms seem likely to follow this pattern.


High Education Community College Formal Schooling Liberal Education American High Education 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Tobias Schulze-Cleven, Esther Winter, and an anonymous referee made helpful comments on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Public PolicyCentral European UniversityBudapestHungary

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