Cover: The Uncertain Profession: Harvard and the Search for Educational Authority, from Harvard University PressCover: The Uncertain Profession in E-DITION

The Uncertain Profession

Harvard and the Search for Educational Authority

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674422223

Publication Date: 01/01/1980

341 pages


Available from De Gruyter »

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

Associate Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 1968 to 1976, Arthur Powell brings special knowledge to an intriguing question: Can a profession also be a valid liberal art? Harvard’s strenuous attempt to have it both ways is traced in this first serious history of a major school of education.

The Uncertain Profession reviews the specific choices and concerns that have faced professors and administrators at Harvard since education was first taught in 1891. This case study of one university’s experience is framed by larger issues: Is education a proper university subject? What educational roles are most important? Should the focus be on theory or on practice? How are education professionals developed? What are the central tasks education could reasonably perform in American society?

The university’s function in relation to the primary and secondary schools has never been clear cut, and dilemmas inherent in the attempt to professionalize schoolteaching are numerous and far-reaching. Arthur Powell’s engrossing account of Harvard’s struggle will help to clarify the issues and provoke new debate on the role of education in modern society.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Composite photograph showing (top) entrance to the Prudential Center in Boston and (bottom) an internal construction partition/wall printed with the words 'Opening Day 2023' and other decorative text

A New Chapter for Harvard Book Store

Starting in the summer of 2023, for the first time in almost thirty years, Harvard Book Store will have two locations: the flagship store in Harvard Square, and a large new store in the Prudential Center in Boston. For University Press Week we wanted to show some bookseller love, so we reached out to Rachel Cass, General Manager of the Harvard Book Store, to see what’s planned for their exciting new location