Think of the American Midwest, and you may think first of natural resources. A land of Great Lakes and Great Plains, the region is world-renowned for its sparkling waters and its fertile soil. But the region’s strength depends on much more than natural abundance.
Part industrial heartland, part agricultural breadbasket, the Midwest is also home to an extensive network of world-class academic institutions, many of which trace their roots to a 19th-century movement to make higher education more practical and more readily available to rural and working-class citizens.
In time, that movement would change the face of higher education in America, with several Midwestern states playing key roles as pioneers in the establishment of new colleges that offered courses in agriculture and the mechanic arts, as well as other scientific and classical studies.