Two Cultures: Undergraduate Academic Engagement


Using data on upper-division students in the University of California system, we show that two distinct cultures of engagement exist on campus. The culture of engagement in the arts, humanities and social sciences focuses on interaction, participation, and interest in ideas. The culture of engagement in the natural sciences and engineering focuses on improvement of quantitative skills through collaborative study with an eye to rewards in the labor market. The two cultures of engagement are strongly associated with post-graduate degree plans. The findings raise questions about normative conceptions of good educational practices in so far as they are considered to be equally relevant to students in all higher education institutions and all major fields of study.

Steven Brint
Allison M. Cantwell
Robert A. Hannerman
Publication date: 
March 2, 2008
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
Brint, S., Allison M. Cantwell, & Robert A. Hannerman. (2008). Two Cultures: Undergraduate Academic Engagement. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.