Walt R. Rostow, professor of Economic History at M.I.T., and Visiting Lecturer Barbara Ward last night called for the creative and unifying spirit in government that a University education can produce.
Speaking at a Leverett House symposium on "The University and the Public Life," Rostow said that the American tendency towards specialization in study and thought "is at least effective in a situation which requires radical innovation promptly."
Major policy ideas, he asserted come from "lonely thinkers," rather than from bureaucratic committees. He suggested in particular unification of the branches of the military, with a few individuals "paid just to formulate policy," rather than putting policy in hands of a group like the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Rostow said that Universities, too, must try to develop people with more unified concepts of the world. He noted that scholastic specialization tends to limit the range of different ways of looking at things.
Miss Ward, who replaced an ailing James Reston on the program, said that Britain had increased the number of able men in public service by "diminishing the class content" of the government and by giving government scholarships to promising students, but that the lures of industry and of emigration keep many out of the public life.
She stated that the British commonwealth has been strongest when it is in the position of "paternal protector of backwards people" but that in dealing with new nations such as Ghana, when "the relations becomes one of equals, it is not very good."
Miss Ward suggested that "if we made a rule that higher civil servants would have to work, for instance, on a gang in Texas, we should be getting somewhere."