Horizontal History and Higher Education
Less obvious but essential is that the prototypical American campus has historically relied on a network of related organizations and institutions which are less visible because they cut horizontally-often low to the ground or even below the surface, out of public vision. The roots of “horizontal institutions” run deep in American higher education in part because of a tradition of institutional autonomy and decentralization, best characterized by the absence of a central federal ministry of education. To ﬁll this void, colleges and universities have long depended on a ﬂuid network of philanthropies and voluntary associations to carry out the primary goals of teaching, research, and service. The perspective of “horizontal history” is attractive because it places colleges and universities into the context of the broad, distinctive nonproﬁt sector-a phenomenon well established in the United States that is virtually absent from other nations worldwide. Second, “horizontal histories” are metaphorically the networks and synapses by which individual institutions are joined, providing multiple connections in which the collective cooperation contributes to each campus’s distinctive deﬁnition of self-promotion and self-protection.