This chapter discusses the ideas of Wilhelm von Humboldt and the
establishment of the Berlin university. Following a brief interlude in
Berlin, Humboldt functioned as a Prussian diplomat at the Holy See in
1802-08. During sixteen productive months, from February 1809 to June 1810,
he would leave a deep impression on the educational system. Humboldt's
efforts were initially focused on breathing life into and reforming the
Prussian school system. In 1809, he sent the official letter to the Prussian
king Frederick William III about establishing a new university in Berlin.
The King approved the proposal. Humboldt was as much a practically disposed
as a theoretically orientated man, and his idea about Bildung emerges
most concretely in the proposals, memoranda, and drafts that he wrote during
his years as a Prussian minister. Next to Bildung, the idea of
science and scholarship (Wissenschaft) was a cornerstone in
Humboldt's conception of the university.
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