History News Network on Debating the End of History
In Debating the End of History, distinguished scholar David W. Noble, professor emeritus of American studies at the University of Minnesota, asks difficult but essential questions which must be addressed if we are to forge a sustainable future in the age of climate change. Noble challenges the conventional wisdom of perpetual economic growth upon which bourgeois culture is founded. He asks how it is possible to have continuous growth within a finite earth. In seeking an answer to this inquiry, Noble examines the evolution of his academic career within the historical and cultural context of a growing discourse on the feasibility of continuous economic growth.
Noble was born March 17, 1925, and he grew up on a New Jersey dairy farm. His family, however, lost their farm during the Great Depression. After military service during the Second World War, Noble took advantage of the GI Bill to obtain a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1952, he accepted a teaching position with the history department at the University of Minnesota, where he pursued a distinguished career as a scholar and teacher. During the course of his long career, Noble came to challenge the utopian assumptions of an ever expanding marketplace; finding fault with the fragmentation of intellectual life within the modern university that fosters an environment in which the sciences are separated from the humanities.