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James Bryant Conant

James Bryant Conant

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James Bryant Conant

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  1. ED 530 Theorist Presentation Summer Semester 2010 Amy Thomas James Bryant Conant

  2. Background Born on March 26, 1893 in Dorchester, Massachusetts B.A. from Harvard University in 1914 Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University in 1916 Returned to Harvard in 1916 as an instructor of chemistry Spent one year in the research division of the chemical warfare service during WWI, and directed the Organic Research Unit in the production of mustard gas Became chairman of Harvard upon returning from research division Image Source: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/ed/2006/summer/images/james_bryant_conant.jpg

  3. Background Between 1919 and 1933 he wrote or coauthored five chemistry textbooks In 1933, elected President of Harvard University As president, implemented policies to improve faculty quality Implemented policies in place to establish a more diversified student body Was an early proponent of standardized testing as a reliable admissions tool In 1963,was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President John F. Kennedy Died on Feb. 11, 1978 in Hanover, New Hampshire at the age of 84 Image Source: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/ed/2006/summer/images/james_bryant_conant.jpg

  4. Conant’s Involvement in WWI Conant’s extensive knowledge of chemistry resulted in him joining the Department of Defense as the Chemical Warfare Service in 1917. Conant worked on gas warfare projects in laboratories where he helped create mustard gas and lewisite. Conant later traveled to Germany where he observed the fast-paced scientific competition among individuals and institutions.

  5. Conant Observations Lead to Changes in Education As president of Harvard, Conant began working on improving faculty. He developed a system of tenure so that assistant professors who were not promoted at the end of his or her term were automatically terminated. He also implemented graduate degrees in education. Conant also implemented a system of scholarships so that competent individuals who do cannot afford a college education could still attend. As a result, the student population became more diverse. With the goal of improving “general education,” Conant implemented programs such as training school administrators.

  6. More Effects on Education Under Conant’s leadership, Harvard began including women in the same medical and law degree programs as men. In 1959, Conant published, The American High School Today, which included specific recommendations for various educational improvements, especially in the teaching of foreign languages. Conant also urged the consolidation of smaller high schools into comprehensive schools. Conant’s 1961 publication, Slums and Suburbs, drew attention to the mass difference in funding of schools in cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis. In his 1964 publication, Shaping Educational Policy , Conant encouraged greater involvement of state administrations in education.

  7. The Stats are In! Since Conant’s efforts to improve education, statistics have changed dramatically. Here’s a glance of the dramatic change in professional degrees conferred to women from 1950-2000. Image Source: http://beckerexhibits.wustl.edu/mowihsp/images/ChartC.jpg

  8. Here we can see the increase of minorities in degree-granting institutions. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in degree-granting institutions, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, fall 1976 through fall 2007

  9. Conant’s Observable Impact Due to the efforts of Conant, many areas of education have improved. The number of professional degrees conferred to women has increased dramatically, as well as the increase of teacher expectations. As a result of standardized tests being accepted as a reliable admission tool, students in universities such as Harvard are much more diverse, both economically and ethnically. Not only have states played a tremendous role in education, but the government has become involved as well, especially with the enactment of No Child Left Behind.

  10. References Bartlett, P.D. (1983). James Bryant Conant. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved May 26, 2010 from http://books.nap.edu/html/biomems/jconant.pdf James B. Conant. (2010). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved May 26, 2010 from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/130824/James-B-Conant J.B. Conant. (n.d.) In Education Encyclopedia online. Retrieved May 26, 2010 from http://www.answers.com/library/Education+Encyclopedia-cid-17504 Westheimer, F. H. (1978). James Bryant Conant [Electronic version]. Organic Syntheses, 58 , 6-11.