Academy

An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, higher learning, research, or honorary membership. Academia is the worldwide group composed of professors and researchers at institutes of higher learning.

The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece.

Etymology

The word comes from the Academy in ancient Greece, which derives from the Athenian hero, Akademos. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning. The sacred space, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom, Athena, had formerly been an olive grove, hence the expression "the groves of Academe".[1]

In these gardens, the philosopher Plato conversed with followers. Plato developed his sessions into a method of teaching philosophy and in 387 BC, established what is known today as the Old Academy.

By extension academia has come to mean the cultural accumulation of knowledge, its development and transmission across generations and its practitioners and transmitters. In the 17th century, British, Italian and French scholars used the term to describe types of institutions of higher learning.

Origins

Original Academy

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The School of Athens, fresco by Raphael (1509–1510), of an idealized academy

Before Akademia was a school, and even before Cimon enclosed its precincts with a wall,[2] it contained a sacred grove of olive trees dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, outside the city walls of ancient Athens.[3] The archaic name for the site was Hekademia, which by classical times evolved into Akademia and was explained, at least as early as the beginning of the 6th century BC, by linking it to an Athenian hero, a legendary "Akademos". The site of Akademia was sacred to Athena and other immortals.

Plato's immediate successors as "scholarch" of Akademia were Speusippus (347–339 BC), Xenocrates (339–314 BC), Polemon (314–269 BC), Crates (ca. 269–266 BC), and Arcesilaus (ca. 266–240 BC). Later scholarchs include Lacydes of Cyrene, Carneades, Clitomachus, and Philo of Larissa ("the last undisputed head of the Academy").[4][5] Other notable members of Akademia include Aristotle, Heraclides Ponticus, Eudoxus of Cnidus, Philip of Opus, Crantor, and Antiochus of Ascalon.

Neoplatonic Academy of Late Antiquity

After a lapse during the early Roman occupation, Akademia was refounded[6] as a new institution of some outstanding Platonists of late antiquity who called themselves "successors" (diadochoi, but of Plato) and presented themselves as an uninterrupted tradition reaching back to Plato. However, there cannot have actually been any geographical, institutional, economic or personal continuity with the original Academy in the new organizational entity.[7]

The last "Greek" philosophers of the revived Akademia in the 6th century were drawn from various parts of the Hellenistic cultural world and suggest the broad syncretism of the common culture (see koine): Five of the seven Akademia philosophers mentioned by Agathias were Syriac in their cultural origin: Hermias and Diogenes (both from Phoenicia), Isidorus of Gaza, Damascius of Syria, Iamblichus of Coele-Syria and perhaps even Simplicius of Cilicia.[7]

The emperor Justinian closed the school in AD 529, a date that is often cited as the end of Antiquity. According to the sole witness, the historian Agathias, its remaining members looked for protection under the rule of Sassanid king Khosrau I in his capital at Ctesiphon, carrying with them precious scrolls of literature and philosophy, and to a lesser degree of science. After a peace treaty between the Persian and the Byzantine empire in 532 guaranteed their personal security (an early document in the history of freedom of religion), some members found sanctuary in the pagan stronghold of Harran, near Edessa. One of the last leading figures of this group was Simplicius, a pupil of Damascius, the last head of the Athenian school.

It has been speculated that Akademia did not altogether disappear.[7][8] After his exile, Simplicius (and perhaps some others), may have travelled to Harran, near Edessa. From there, the students of an Academy-in-exile could have survived into the 9th century, long enough to facilitate the Arabic revival of the Neoplatonist commentary tradition in Baghdad.[8]

Ancient and medieval institutions

Ancient world

Greece and early Europe

In ancient Greece, after the establishment of the original Academy, Plato's colleagues and pupils developed spin-offs of his method. Arcesilaus, a Greek student of Plato established the Middle Academy. Carneades, another student, established the New Academy. In 335 BC, Aristotle refined the method with his own theories and established the Lyceum in another gymnasium.

Africa

The library of Alexandria in Egypt was frequented by intellectuals from Africa, Europe and Asia studying various aspects of philosophy, language and mathematics.

The University of Timbuktu was a medieval university in Timbuktu, present-day Mali, which comprised three schools: the Mosque of Djinguereber, the Mosque of Sidi Yahya, and the Mosque of Sankore. During its zenith, the university had an average attendance of around 25,000 students within a city of around 100,000 people.

China

In China a higher education institution Shang Xiang was founded by Shun in the Youyu era before the 21st century BC. The Imperial Central Academy at Nanjing, founded in 258, was a result of the evolution of Shang Xiang and it became the first comprehensive institution combining education and research and was divided into five faculties in 470, which later became Nanjing University.

In the 8th century another kind of institution of learning emerged, named Shuyuan, which were generally privately owned. There were thousands of Shuyuan recorded in ancient times. The degrees from them varied from one to another and those advanced Shuyuan such as Bailudong Shuyuan and Yuelu Shuyuan can be classified as higher institutions of learning.

India

Taxila or Takshashila, in ancient India, modern-day Pakistan, was an early centre of learning, near present-day Islamabad in the city of Taxila. It is considered as one of the ancient universities of the world. According to scattered references which were only fixed a millennium later it may have dated back to at least the 5th century BC.[9] Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the 6th century BC.[10] The school consisted of several monasteries without large dormitories or lecture halls where the religious instruction was most likely still provided on an individualistic basis.[11] Takshashila is described in some detail in later Jātaka tales, written in Sri Lanka around the 5th century AD.[12]

It became a noted centre of learning at least several centuries BC, and continued to attract students until the destruction of the city in the 5th century AD. Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya. The famous treatise Arthashastra (Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics) by Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself. Chanakya (or Kautilya),[13] the Maurya Emperor Chandragupta[14] and the Ayurvedic healer Charaka studied at Taxila.[15]

Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen. The Vedas and the Eighteen Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science.[15]

Nalanda University India ruins
Nalanda, ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India[16][17] from 427 to 1197

Nalanda was established in the 5th century AD in Bihar, India.[18] It was founded in 427 in northeastern India, not far from what is today the southern border of Nepal. It survived until 1197 when it was set upon, destroyed and burnt by the marauding forces of Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji. It was devoted to Buddhist studies, but it also trained students in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war.[19]

The center had eight separate compounds, 10 temples, meditation halls, classrooms, lakes and parks. It had a nine-story library where monks meticulously copied books and documents so that individual scholars could have their own collections. It had dormitories for students, perhaps a first for an educational institution, housing 10,000 students in the university’s heyday and providing accommodation for 2,000 professors.[20] Nalanda University attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.

Persia

The geographical position of Persia allowed it to absorb cultural influences and ideas from both west and east. This include the spread of the Greek form of schools in the new Hellenistic cities built in Persia after the invasion of Alexander the Great.[21]

Under the Sasanians, Syriac became an important language of the administration and intellectuals, rivaling Greek. Several cities developed centers of higher learning in the Sasanian Empire, including Mosul, al-Hira, and Harran (famous for the Pythagorean School of the Sabeans). The Grand School was the main center of learning in the Persian capital Ctesiphon, but little is known about it. Perhaps the most famous center of learning in Persia was the Academy of Gundishapur, teaching medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and logic. The academy was later instrumental in founding the Muslim city of Baghdad as a center of learning, and serving as the model for the first Muslim hospital (bimaristan) at Damascus.[21]

Islamic world

Founded in Fes, University of Al-Karaouine in the 9th century and in Cairo, Al-Azhar University in the 10th century, and in Mali, the University of Timbuktu in about 1100. Mustansiriya Madrasah in Baghdad, Iraq was established in 1227 as a madrasah by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir. Its library had an initial collection of 80,000 volumes, given by the Caliph. The collection was said to have grown to 400,000 volumes.

Medieval Europe

In Europe, the academy dates to the ancient Greeks and Romans in the pre-Christian era. Newer universities were founded in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the European institution of academia took shape. Monks and priests moved out of monasteries to cathedral cities and other towns where they opened the first schools dedicated to advanced study.

The most notable of these new schools were in Bologna, Salamanca, Paris, Oxford and Cambridge, while others were opened throughout Europe.

The seven liberal arts — the Trivium (Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic), and the Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy) — had been codified in late antiquity. This was the basis of the curriculum in Europe until newly available Arabic texts and the works of Aristotle became more available in Europe in the 12th century.

It remained in place even after the new scholasticism of the School of Chartres and the encyclopedic work of Thomas Aquinas, until the humanism of the 15th and 16th centuries opened new studies of arts and sciences.

Renaissance academies in Italy

With the Neoplatonist revival that accompanied the revival of humanist studies, accademia took on newly vivid connotations.

15th-century accademie

During the Florentine Renaissance, Cosimo de' Medici took a personal interest in the new Platonic Academy that he determined to re-establish in 1439, centered on the marvellous promise shown by the young Marsilio Ficino. Cosimo had been inspired by the arrival at the otherwise ineffective Council of Florence of Gemistos Plethon, who seemed a dazzling figure to the Florentine intellectuals. In 1462 Cosimo gave Ficino a villa at Careggi for the Academy's use, situated where Cosimo could see it from his own villa, and drop by for visits. The academy remained a wholly informal group, but one which had a great influence on Renaissance Neo-Platonism.

In Rome, after unity was restored following the Western Schism, humanist circles, cultivating philosophy and searching out and sharing ancient texts tended to gather where there was access to a library. The Vatican Library was not coordinated until 1475 and was never catalogued or widely accessible: not all popes looked with satisfaction at gatherings of unsupervised intellectuals. At the head of this movement for renewal in Rome was Cardinal Bessarion, whose house from the mid-century was the centre of a flourishing academy of Neoplatonic philosophy and a varied intellectual culture. His valuable Greek as well as Latin library (eventually bequeathed to the city of Venice after he withdrew from Rome) was at the disposal of the academicians. Bessarion, in the latter years of his life, retired from Rome to Ravenna, but he left behind him ardent adherents of the classic philosophy.

The next generation of humanists were bolder admirers of pagan culture, especially in the highly personal academy of Pomponius Leto, the natural son of a nobleman of the Sanseverino family, born in Calabria but known by his academic name, who devoted his energies to the enthusiastic study of classical antiquity, and attracted a great number of disciples and admirers. He was a worshipper not merely of the literary and artistic form, but also of the ideas and spirit of classic paganism, which made him appear a condemner of Christianity and an enemy of the Church. In his academy every member assumed a classical name. Its principal members were humanists, like Bessarion's protégé Giovanni Antonio Campani (Campanus), Bartolomeo Platina, the papal librarian, and Filippo Buonaccorsi, and young visitors who received polish in the academic circle, like Publio Fausto Andrelini of Bologna who took the New Learning to the University of Paris, to the discomfiture of his friend Erasmus. In their self-confidence, these first intellectual neopagans compromised themselves politically, at a time when Rome was full of conspiracies fomented by the Roman barons and the neighbouring princes: Paul II (1464–71) caused Pomponio and the leaders of the academy to be arrested on charges of irreligion, immorality, and conspiracy against the Pope. The prisoners begged so earnestly for mercy, and with such protestations of repentance, that they were pardoned. The Letonian academy, however, collapsed.[22]

In Naples, the Quattrocento academy founded by Alfonso of Aragon and guided by Antonio Beccadelli was the Porticus Antoniana, later known as the Accademia Pontaniana, after Giovanni Pontano.

16th-century literary-aesthetic academies

The 16th century saw at Rome a great increase of literary and aesthetic academies, more or less inspired by the Renaissance, all of which assumed, as was the fashion, odd and fantastic names. We learn from various sources the names of many such institutes; as a rule, they soon perished and left no trace. In the 1520s came the Accademia degli Intronati, for the encouragement of theatrical representations. There were also the Academy of the "Vignaiuoli", or "Vinegrowers" (1530), and the Accademia della Virtù (1542), founded by Claudio Tolomei under the patronage of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici. These were followed by a new academy in the "Orti" or Farnese gardens. There were also the academies of the "Intrepidi" (1560), the "Animosi" (1576), and the "Illuminati" (1598); this last, founded by the Marchesa Isabella Aldobrandini Pallavicino. Towards the middle of the 16th century there were also the Academy of the "Notti Vaticane", or "Vatican Nights", founded by St. Charles Borromeo; an "Accademia di Diritto civile e canonico", and another of the university scholars and students of philosophy (Accademia Eustachiana). As a rule these academies, all very much alike, were merely circles of friends or clients gathered around a learned man or wealthy patron, and were dedicated to literary pastimes rather than methodical study. They fitted in, nevertheless, with the general situation and were in their own way one element of the historical development. Despite their empirical and fugitive character, they helped to keep up the general esteem for literary and other studies. Cardinals, prelates, and the clergy in general were most favourable to this movement, and assisted it by patronage and collaboration.

In Florence, the Medici again took the lead in establishing the Accademia e Compagnia delle Arti del Disegno in 1563, the first of the more formally organised art academies that gradually displaced the medieval artists' guilds, usually known as the Guild of Saint Luke, as the bodies responsible for training and often regulating artists, a change with great implications for the development of art, leading to the styles known as Academic art. The private Accademia degli Incamminati set up later in the century in Bologna by the Carracci brothers was also extremely influential, and with the Accademia di San Luca of Rome (founded 1593) helped to confirm the use of the term for these institutions.

17th- and 18th-century academies in Europe

Gradually academies began to specialize on particular topics (arts, language, sciences) and began to be founded and funded by the kings and other sovereigns (few republics had an academy). And, mainly, since 17th century academies spread throughout Europe.

Literary-philosophical academies

In the 17th century the tradition of literary-philosophical academies, as circles of friends gathering around learned patrons, was continued in Italy; the "Umoristi" (1611), the "Fantastici (1625), and the "Ordinati", founded by Cardinal Dati and Giulio Strozzi. About 1700 were founded the academies of the "Infecondi", the "Occulti", the "Deboli", the "Aborigini", the "Immobili", the "Accademia Esquilina", and others. During the 18th century many Italian cities established similar philosophical and scientific academies. In the first half of the 19th century some of these became the national academies of pre-unitarian states: the Academy of Accesi became the Panomitan Academy of Buon Gusto (Trento); the Academy of Timidi became the Royal Academy of Mantua; the Accademia dei Ricovrati became the Galileiana Academy of Arts and Science (Padova); the Academy of Dissonanti became the Royal Academy of Modena and the Academy of Oscuri became the Royal Academy of Lucca.

Academies of the arts

The Académie de peinture et de sculpture in Paris, established by the monarchy in 1648 (later renamed) was the most significant of the artistic academies, running the famous Salon exhibitions from 1725. Artistic academies were established all over Europe by the end of the 18th century, and many, like the Akademie der Künste in Berlin (founded 1696), the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid (founded 1744), the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg (1757), the Royal Academy in London (1768) and the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan (1776) still run art schools and hold large exhibitions, although their influence on taste greatly declined from the late 19th century.

A fundamental feature of academic discipline in the artistic academies was regular practice in making accurate drawings from antiquities, or from casts of antiquities, on the one hand, and on the other, in deriving inspiration from the other fount, the human form. Students assembled in sessions drawing the draped and undraped human form, and such drawings, which survive in the tens of thousands from the 17th through the 19th century, are termed académies in French.

Similar institutions were often established for other arts: Rome had the Accademia di Santa Cecilia for music from 1585; Paris had the Académie Royale de Musique from 1669 and the Académie Royale d'Architecture from 1671.

Linguistic academies

The Accademia degli Infiammati of Padova and the Accademia degli Umidi, soon renamed the Accademia Fiorentina, of Florence were both founded in 1540, and were both initially concerned with the proper basis for literary use of the volgare, or vernacular language of Italy, which would later become the Italian language. In 1582 five Florentine literati gathered and founded the Accademia della Crusca to demonstrate and conserve the beauty of the Florentine vernacular tongue, modelled upon the authors of the Trecento. The main instrument to do so was the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca. The Crusca long remained a private institution, criticizing and opposing the official Accademia Fiorentina.

The first institution inspired by the Crusca was the Fruitbearing Society for German language, which existed from 1617 to 1680.

The Crusca inspired Richelieu to found in 1634 the analogous Académie française with the task of acting as an official authority on the French language, charged with publishing the official dictionary of that language. The following year the Académie received letters patent from the king Louis XIII as the only recognized academy for French language.

In its turn the state established Académie was the model for the Real Academia Española (founded in 1713) and the Swedish Academy (1786), which are the ruling bodies of their respective languages and editors of major dictionaries. It also was the model for the Russian Academy, founded in 1783, which afterwards merged into the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Academies of sciences

After the short-lived Academia Secretorum Naturae of Naples, the first academy exclusively devoted to sciences was the Accademia dei Lincei founded in 1603 in Rome, particularly focused on natural sciences. In 1657 some students of Galileo founded the Accademia del Cimento (Academy of Experiment) in Florence, focused on physics and astronomy. The foundation of Academy was funded by Prince Leopoldo and Grand Duke Ferdinando II de' Medici. This academy lasted after few decades.

In 1652 was founded the Academia Naturae Curiosorum by four physicians.[23] In 1677, Leopold I, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, recognised the society and in 1687 he gave it the epithet Leopoldina, with which is internationally famous.[24], p. 7–8; [25] So, it became the academy of sciences for the whole Holy Roman Empire.

On 28 November 1660, a group of scientists from and influenced by the Invisible College (gathering approximately since 1645) met at Gresham College and announced the formation of a "College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning", which would meet weekly to discuss science and run experiments. In 1662 Charles II of England signed a Royal Charter which created the "Royal Society of London", then "Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge".

In 1666 Colbert gathered a small group of scholars to found a scientific society in Paris. The first 30 years of the Academy's existence were relatively informal, since no statutes had as yet been laid down for the institution. In contrast to Royal Society, the Academy was founded as an organ of government. In 1699, Louis XIV gave the Academy its first rules and named it Académie royale des sciences.

Although Prussia was a member of Holy Roman Empire, in 1700 Prince-elector Frederick III of Brandenburg founded its own Prussian Academy of Sciences upon the advice of Gottfried Leibniz, who was appointed president.

During the 18th century many European kings followed and founded their own academy of sciences: in 1714 the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna, in 1724 the Russian Academy of Sciences, in 1731 the Royal Dublin Society, in 1735 in Tuscany, in 1739 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in 1742 the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, in 1751 the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, in 1754 in Erfurt, in 1759 the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, in 1763 the Academia Theodoro-Palatina in Heidelberg, in 1779 the Sciences Academy of Lisbon, in 1783 the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in 1782 the Accademia dei Quaranta in Rome, in 1784 in Turin.

This kind of academy lost importance after the university reform begun with the foundation of the University of Berlin, when universities were provided with laboratories and clinics, and were charged with doing experimental research.

Academic societies

Academic societies or learned societies began as groups of academics who worked together or presented their work to each other. These informal groups later became organized and in many cases state-approved. Membership was restricted, usually requiring approval of the current members and often total membership was limited to a specific number. The Royal Society founded in 1660 was the first such academy. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was begun in 1780 by many of the same people prominent in the American Revolution. Academic societies served both as a forum to present and publish academic work, the role now served by academic publishing, and as a means to sponsor research and support academics, a role they still serve. Membership in academic societies is still a matter of prestige in modern academia.

Military academies

At first such institutions only trained the Artillery and Military Engineering officers, like the Aula da Artilharia (founded in 1641) and the Aula de Fortificação (1647) in Lisbon, the Real Accademia di Savoia in Turin (opened in 1678), the Imperial Artillery Military Academy of Saint Petersburg (1698), the Royal Military Academy Woolwich (1741), the Real Colegio de Artilleria in Segovia (1764).

Starting at the end of the 16th century in the Holy Roman Empire, France, Poland and Denmark, many Knight academies were established to prepare the aristocratic youth for state and military service. Many of them lately turned into gymnasiums, but some of them were transformed into true military academies.

The Royal Danish Military Academy began to educate all officers for the Royal Danish Army by request of King Frederick IV in 1713.

The École Militaire was founded by Louis XV of France in 1750 with the aim of creating an academic college for cadet officers from poor families. The construction began in 1752, but the school did not open until 1760.

The Theresian Military Academy was founded on 14 December 1751 by Maria Theresa of Austria. Per year the Academy accepted 100 noblemen and 100 commoners to start their education there.[26]
These were the model for the subsequent military academies throughout Europe, like the Reale Accademia Militare of Naples in 1787 and the Military Academy Karlberg in 1792.

Modern use of the term academy

Athens academy
The modern Academy of Athens, next to the University of Athens and the National Library forming 'the Trilogy', designed by Schinkel's Danish pupil Theofil Hansen, 1885, in Greek Ionic, academically correct even to the polychrome sculpture.

The term is used widely today to refer to anything from schools to learned societies to funding agencies to private industry associations.

National academies are bodies for scientists, artists or writers that are usually state-funded and often are given the role of controlling much of the state funding for research into their areas, or other forms of funding. Some use different terms in their name – the British Royal Society for example. The membership typically comprises distinguished individuals in the relevant field, who may be elected by the other members, or appointed by the government. They are essentially not schools or colleges, though some may operate teaching arms. The Académie Française was the most influential pattern for these. Finland even has two separate "academies": Academy of Finland is a government-run funding agency, Suomalainen tiedeakatemia is a learned society.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the annual Academy Awards, is an example of a purely industry body using the name. College-type specialized academies include the Royal Academy of Music of the United Kingdom; the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York; the United States Naval Academy; United States Air Force Academy; and the Australian Defence Force Academy. In emulation of the military academies, police in the United States are trained in police academies.

Because of the tradition of intellectual brilliance associated with this institution, many groups have chosen to use the word "academy" in their name, especially specialized tertiary educational institutions. In the early 19th century "academy" took the connotations that "gymnasium" was acquiring in German-speaking lands, of school that was less advanced than a college (for which it might prepare students) but considerably more than elementary. Early American examples are the prestigious preparatory schools of Phillips Andover Academy, Phillips Exeter Academy and Deerfield Academy. In England, "academy" had a specialized meaning for schools, but the Edinburgh Academy was more like the American examples. Academy was also used very loosely for various commercial training schools for dancing and the like.

Mozart organized public subscription performances of his music in Vienna in the 1780s and 1790s, he called the concerts "academies". This usage in musical terms survives in the concert orchestra Academy of St Martin in the Fields and in the Brixton Academy, a concert hall in Brixton, South London.

Academies proliferated in the 20th century until even a three-week series of lectures and discussions would be termed an "academy". In addition, the generic term "the academy" is sometimes used to refer to all of academia, which is sometimes considered a global successor to the Academy of Athens.

French regional academies overseeing education

French academies map
A map outlining the academies overseeing education in France.

In France, regional academic councils called academies are responsible for supervising all aspects of education in their region. The academy regions are similar to, but not identical to, the standard French administrative regions. The rector of each academy is a revocable nominee of the Ministry of Education. These academies' main responsibility is overseeing primary and secondary education, but public universities are in some respects also answerable to the academy for their region. However, French private universities are independent of the state and therefore independent of the regional academies.

Russian research academies

In Imperial Russia and Soviet Union the term "academy", or Academy of Sciences was reserved to denote a state research establishment, see Russian Academy of Sciences. The latter one still exists in Russia, although other types of academies (study and honorary) appeared as well.

English school types

Tertiary education

From the mid-seventeenth to the 19th centuries, educational institutions in England run by nonconformist groups that did not agree with the Church of England teachings were collectively known as "the dissenting academies". As a place at an English public school or university generally required conformity to the Church of England, these institutions provided an alternative for those with different religious views and formed a significant part of England’s educational system.

University College London (UCL) was founded in 1826 as the first publicly funded English university to admit anyone regardless of religious adherence; and the Test and Corporation Acts, which had imposed a wide range of restrictions on citizens who were not in conformity to the Church of England, were abolished shortly afterwards, by the Catholic Relief Act of 1829.

Primary and secondary education

In 2000, a form of "independent state schools", called "academies", were introduced in England. They have been compared to US charter schools.[27] They are directly funded from central government rather than through local councils, and are partly privately sponsored. Often the sponsors are from business, but some are sponsored by universities and charities. These schools have greater autonomy than schools run by the local councils. They are usually a type of secondary school, but some are "all through" schools with an integral primary school. Some of the early ones were briefly known as "city academies"—the first such school opening on 10 September 2002 at the Business Academy Bexley.[28]

The Queen's Speech, which followed the 2010 general election, included proposals for a bill to allow the Secretary of State for Education to approve schools, both Primary and Secondary, that have been graded "outstanding" by Ofsted, to become academies. This was to be through a simplified streamlined process not requiring sponsors to provide capital funding.[29]

In 2012, the UK government began forcing some schools which had been graded satisfactory or lower into becoming academies, unilaterally removing existing governing bodies and head teachers in some cases. An example was Downhills Primary School in Haringey, where the head teacher refused to turn the school into an academy. OFSTED were called in to assess the school, failed it, and both the head and the governing body were removed and replaced with a Government-appointed board despite opposition from the school and parents.[30][31]

United States

Prior to the twentieth century, education was not as carefully structured in the United States as it is in the twenty-first. There was not a rigid division between high school and colleges. In many cases, educational records were not kept nor diplomas issued.

A reference to academia, in the United States, is to post-secondary education, especially the most elite or liberal arts part of it. However, an academy was what later became known as a high school. Some older high schools, such as Corning Free Academy, retained the term in their names (Corning Free Academy, demoted to a middle school, closed in 2014). However, the United States Military Academy is a college. A number of colleges began as (high school) academies.

Academia began to splinter from its Christian roots in 18th-century colonial America. In 1753, Benjamin Franklin established the Academy and Charitable School of the Province of Pennsylvania. In 1755, it was renamed the College and Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia. Today, it is known as the University of Pennsylvania. For the first time, academia was established as a secular institution. For the most part, church-based dogmatic points of view were no longer thrust upon students in the examination of their subjects of study. Points of view became more varied as students were free to wander in thought without having to add religious dimensions to their conclusions.

In 1819, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia and developed the standards used today in organizing colleges and universities across the globe. The curriculum was taken from the traditional liberal arts, classical humanism and the values introduced with the Protestant Reformation. Jefferson offered his students something new: the freedom to chart their own courses of study rather than mandate a fixed curriculum for all students. Religious colleges and universities followed suit.

The Academy movement in the U.S. in the early 19th century arose from a public sense that education in the classic disciplines needed to be extended into the new territories and states that were being formed in the Old Northwest, in western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Dozens of academies were founded in the area, supported by private donations.

Germany

During the Age of Enlightenment in 18th-century Europe, the academy started to change in Europe. In the beginning of the 19th century Wilhelm von Humboldt not only published his philosophical paper On the Limits of State Action, but also directed the educational system in Prussia for a short time. He introduced an academic system that was much more accessible to the lower classes. Humboldt's Ideal was an education based on individuality, creativity, wholeness, and versatility. Many continental European universities are still rooted in these ideas (or at least pay lip-service to them). They are, however, in contradiction to today's massive trend of specialization in academia.

Academic personnel

An academic is a person who works as a teacher or researcher at a university or other higher education institution. An academic usually holds an advanced degree. The term scholar is sometimes used with equivalent meaning to that of academic and describes in general those who attain mastery in a research discipline. It has wider application, with it also being used to describe those whose occupation was researched prior to organized higher education.

Academic administrators such as university presidents are not typically included in this use of the term academic, although many administrators hold advanced degrees and pursue scholarly research and writing while also tending to their administrative duties.

In the United States, the term academic is approximately synonymous with that of the job title professor although in recent decades a growing number of institutions include librarians in the category of "academic staff". In the United Kingdom, various titles of academic rank are used, typically research associate, research fellow (also senior research fellow and principal research fellow), lecturer (also senior lecturer and principal lecturer), reader, and professor. The colloquial term don is sometimes substituted for teaching staff at Oxford and Cambridge.

Structure

Academia is usually conceived as divided into disciplines or fields of study. These have their roots in the subjects of the medieval trivium and quadrivium, which provided the model for scholastic thought in the first universities in medieval Europe.

The disciplines have been much revised, and many new disciplines have become more specialized, researching smaller and smaller areas. Because of this, interdisciplinary research is often prized in today's academy, though it can also be made difficult both by practical matters of administration and funding and by differing research methods of different disciplines. In fact, many new fields of study have initially been conceived as interdisciplinary, and later become specialized disciplines in their own right – a recent example is cognitive science.

Most academic institutions reflect the divide of the disciplines in their administrative structure, being divided internally into departments or programs in various fields of study. Each department is typically administered and funded separately by the academic institution, though there may be some overlap and faculty members, research and administrative staff may in some cases be shared among departments. In addition, academic institutions generally have an overall administrative structure (usually including a president and several deans) which is controlled by no single department, discipline, or field of thought. Also, the tenure system, a major component of academic employment and research in the US, serves to ensure that academia is relatively protected from political and financial pressures on thought.

Qualifications

The degree awarded for completed study is the primary academic qualification. Typically these are, in order of completion, associate's degree, bachelor's degree (awarded for completion of undergraduate study), master's degree, and doctorate (awarded after graduate or postgraduate study). These are only currently being standardized in Europe as part of the Bologna process, as many different degrees and standards of time to reach each are currently awarded in different countries in Europe. In most fields the majority of academic researchers and teachers have doctorates or other terminal degrees, though in some professional and creative fields it is common for scholars and teachers to have only master's degrees.

Academic conferences

Closely related to academic publishing is the practice of bringing a number of intellectuals in a field to give talks on their research at an academic conference, often allowing for a wider audience to be exposed to their ideas.

Conflicting goals

Within academia, diverse constituent groups have diverse, and sometimes conflicting, goals. In the contemporary academy several of these conflicts are widely distributed and common. A salient example of conflict is that between the goal to improve teaching quality and the goal to reduce costs. The conflicting goals of professional education programs and general education advocates currently are playing out in the negotiation over accreditation standards. For example, the goals of research for profit and for the sake of knowledge often conflict to some degree.

Practice and theory

Putting theory into practice can result in a gap between what is learned in academic settings and how that learning is manifested in practical settings. This is addressed in a number of professional schools such as education and social work, which require students to participate in practica for credit. Students are taught to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Not everyone agrees on the value of theory as opposed to practice. Academics are sometimes criticized as lacking practical experience and thus too insulated from the 'real world.' Academic insularity is colloquially criticized as being "ivory tower"; when used pejoratively, this term is criticized as anti-intellectualism.

To address this split, there is a growing body of practice research, such as the practice-based research network (PBRN) within clinical medical research. Arts and humanities departments debate how to define this emerging research phenomenon. There are a variety of contested models of practice research (practice-as-research, practice-based and practice through research), for example, screen media practice research.

Town and gown

Universities are often culturally distinct from the towns or cities where they reside. In some cases this leads to discomfort or outright conflict between local residents and members of the university over political, economic, or other issues. Some localities in the Northeastern United States, for instance, have tried to block students from registering to vote as local residents—instead encouraging them to vote by absentee ballot at their primary residence—in order to retain control of local politics. Other issues can include deep cultural and class divisions between local residents and university students. The film Breaking Away dramatizes such a conflict.

Academic publishing

History of academic journals

Among the earliest research journals were the Proceedings of Meetings of the Royal Society in the 17th century. At that time, the act of publishing academic inquiry was controversial, and widely ridiculed. It was not at all unusual for a new discovery to be announced as an anagram, reserving priority for the discoverer, but indecipherable for anyone not in on the secret: both Isaac Newton and Leibniz used this approach. However, this method did not work well. Robert K. Merton, a sociologist, found that 92 percent of cases of simultaneous discovery in the 17th century ended in dispute. The number of disputes dropped to 72 percent in the 18th century, 59 percent by the latter half of the 19th century, and 33 percent by the first half of the 20th century. The decline in contested claims for priority in research discoveries can be credited to the increasing acceptance of the publication of papers in modern academic journals.

The Royal Society was steadfast in its unpopular belief that science could only move forward through a transparent and open exchange of ideas backed by experimental evidence. Many of the experiments were ones that we would not recognize as scientific today—nor were the questions they answered. For example, when the Duke of Buckingham was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society on June 5, 1661, he presented the Society with a vial of powdered "unicorn horn". It was a well-accepted 'fact' that a circle of unicorn's horn would act as an invisible cage for any spider. Robert Hooke, the chief experimenter of the Royal Society, emptied the Duke's vial into a circle on a table and dropped a spider in the centre of the circle. The spider promptly walked out of the circle and off the table. In its day, this was cutting-edge research.

Current status and development

Research journals have been so successful that the number of journals and of papers has proliferated over the past few decades, and the credo of the modern academic has become "publish or perish". Except for generalist journals such as Science or Nature, the topics covered in any single journal have tended to be narrow, and readership and citation have declined. A variety of methods for reviewing submissions exist. The most common involves initial approval by the journal, peer review by two or three researchers working in similar or closely related subjects who recommend approval or rejection as well as request error correction, clarification or additions before publishing. Controversial topics may receive additional levels of review. Journals have developed a hierarchy, partly based on reputation but also on the strictness of the review policy. More prestigious journals are more likely to receive and publish more important work. Submitters try to submit their work to the most prestigious journal likely to publish it to bolster their reputation and curriculum vitae.

Andrew Odlyzko, an academician with a large number of published research papers, has argued that research journals will evolve into something akin to Internet forums over the coming decade, by extending the interactivity of current Internet preprints. This change may open them up to a wider range of ideas, some more developed than others. Whether this will be a positive evolution remains to be seen. Some claim that forums, like markets, tend to thrive or fail based on their ability to attract talent. Some believe that highly restrictive and tightly monitored forums may be the least likely to thrive.

Academic dress

Gowns have been associated with academia since the birth of the university in the 14th and 15th centuries, perhaps because most early scholars were priests or church officials. Over time, the gowns worn by degree-holders have become standardized to some extent, although traditions in individual countries and even institutions have established a diverse range of gown styles, and some have ended the custom entirely, even for graduation ceremonies.

At some universities, such as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, undergraduates may be required to wear gowns on formal occasions and on graduation. Undergraduate gowns are usually a shortened version of a bachelor's gown. At other universities, for example, outside the UK or U.S., the custom is entirely absent. Students at the University of Trinity College at the University of Toronto wear gowns to formal dinner, debates, to student government, and to many other places.

In general, in the U.S. and UK recipients of a bachelor's degree are entitled to wear a simple full-length robe without adornment and a mortarboard cap with a tassel. In addition, holders of a bachelor's degree may be entitled to wear a ceremonial hood at some schools. In the U.S., bachelor's hoods are rarely seen. Bachelor's hoods are generally smaller versions of those worn by recipients of master's and doctoral degrees.

Recipients of a master's degree in the U.S. or UK wear a similar cap and gown but closed sleeves with slits, and usually receive a ceremonial hood that hangs down the back of the gown. In the U.S. the hood is traditionally edged with a silk or velvet strip displaying the disciplinary color, and is lined with the university's colors.

According to The American Council on Education "six-year specialist degrees (Ed.S., etc.) and other degrees that are intermediate between the master's and the doctor's degree may have hoods specially designed (1) intermediate in length between the master's and doctor's hood, (2) with a four-inch velvet border (also intermediate between the widths of the borders of master's and doctor's hoods), and (3) with color distributed in the usual fashion and according to the usual rules. Cap tassels should be uniformly black."[32]

Recipients of a doctoral degree tend to have the most elaborate academic dress, and hence there is the greatest diversity at this level. In the U.S., doctoral gowns are similar to the gowns worn by master's graduates, with the addition of velvet stripes across the sleeves and running down the front of the gown which may be tinted with the disciplinary color for the degree received. Holders of a doctoral degree may be entitled or obliged to wear scarlet (a special gown in scarlet) on high days and special occasions. While some doctoral graduates wear the mortarboard cap traditional to the lower degree levels, most wear a cap or Tudor bonnet that resembles a tam o'shanter, from which a colored tassel is suspended.

In modern times in the U.S. and UK, gowns are normally only worn at graduation ceremonies, although some colleges still demand the wearing of academic dress on formal occasions (official banquets and other similar affairs). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was more common to see the dress worn in the classroom, a practice which has now all but disappeared. Two notable exceptions are Oxford and a society at Sewanee, where students are required to wear formal academic dress in the examination room.

See also

References

  1. ^ "academe". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Plutarch Life of Cimon 13.8
  3. ^ Thucydides ii:34
  4. ^ Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed. (1996), s.v. "Philon of Larissa."
  5. ^ See the table in The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 53–54.
  6. ^ Alan Cameron, "The last days of the Academy at Athens," in Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society vol 195 (n.s. 15), 1969, pp 7–29.
  7. ^ a b c Gerald Bechtle, Bryn Mawr Classical Review of Rainer Thiel, Simplikios und das Ende der neuplatonischen Schule in Athen. Stuttgart, 1999 Archived 2005-03-13 at Wikiwix (in English).
  8. ^ a b Richard Sorabji, (2005), The Philosophy of the Commentators, 200–600 AD: Psychology (with Ethics and Religion), page 11. Cornell University Press
  9. ^ Hartmut Scharfe (2002): Education in Ancient India, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 90-04-12556-6, p. 141:

    We have to be extremely cautious in dealing with the literary evidence, because much of the information offered in the secondary literature on Taxila is derived from the Jataka prose that was only fixed in Ceylon several hundred years after the events that it purports to describe, probably some time after Buddhaghosa, i.e. around A.D. 500.

  10. ^ "History of Education", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007.
  11. ^ Hartmut Scharfe (2002): Education in Ancient India, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 90-04-12556-6, p. 141
  12. ^ Marshall 1975:81
  13. ^ Kautilya Archived 2008-01-10 at the Wayback Machine Encyclopædia Britannica.
  14. ^ Radhakumud Mookerji (1941; 1960; reprint 1989). Chandragupta Maurya and His Times (p. 17). Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 81-208-0405-8.
  15. ^ a b Radha Kumud Mookerji (2nd ed. 1951; reprint 1989). Ancient Indian Education: Brahmanical and Buddhist (p. 478-489). Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 81-208-0423-6.
  16. ^ Altekar, Anant Sadashiv (1965). Education in Ancient India, Sixth, Varanasi: Nand Kishore & Bros.
  17. ^ "Really Old School," Garten, Jeffrey E. New York Times, 9 December 2006.
  18. ^ Altekar, Anant Sadashiv (1965). Education in Ancient India, Sixth, Varanasi: Nand Kishore & Bros.
  19. ^ OpEd in New York Times: Nalanda University
  20. ^ "Official website of Nalanda University". Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  21. ^ a b Lowe, Roy; Yasuhara, Yoshihito (2016). The Origins of Higher Learning: Knowledge networks and the early development of universities. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781317543275.
  22. ^ Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes, ii, 2, gives an unsympathetic account.
  23. ^ As for instance in the monumental A History of Magic and Experimental Science by Lynn Thorndike (see online).
  24. ^ Self-produced overview of the Leopoldina Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine (accessed May 27, 2005)
  25. ^ Groschenheft magazine on the Leopoldina's anniversary (German) Archived March 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (accessed May 27, 2005)
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-06. Retrieved 2016-09-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), Feb. 2009.
  27. ^ Rebecca Smithers, The Guardian, July 6, 2005, "Hedge fund charity plans city academies" Archived 2006-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "BBC NEWS – UK – Education – Academy opens doors to the future". Archived from the original on 28 June 2004. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  29. ^ "Page not found". Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  30. ^ "BBC News – Academy row school governors sacked by Michael Gove". BBC News. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  31. ^ David Hardiman. "Protesting parents 'disgusted' with Downhills governors' removal". Haringey Independent. Archived from the original on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  32. ^ "Six-Year Specialist Degrees". Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-03.

Bibliography

  • A. Leight DeNeef and Craufurd D. Goodwin, eds. The Academic's Handbook. 2nd ed. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995.
  • Christopher J. Lucas and John W. Murry, Jr. New Faculty A practical Guide for Academic Beginners. New York: Modern Language Association, 1992.
  • John A. Goldsmith, John Komlosk and Penny Schine Gold. The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.
  • William Germano. Getting it Published: A Guide for Scholars (And Anyone Else)Serious about Serious Books. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
  • Kemp, Roger L. "Town and Gown Relations: A Handbook of Best Practices," McFarland and Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, USA, and London, England, UK (2013). (ISBN 978-0-7864-6399-2).

Further reading

External links

90th Academy Awards

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2017, and took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. The ceremony was held on March 4, 2018, rather than its usual late-February date to avoid conflicting with the 2018 Winter Olympics. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories. The ceremony was televised in the United States by American Broadcasting Company (ABC), produced by Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd and directed by Glenn Weiss. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel hosted for the second consecutive year.In related events, the Academy held its 9th Annual Governors Awards ceremony at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center on November 11, 2017. On February 10, 2018, in a ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the Academy Scientific and Technical Awards were presented by host actor Sir Patrick Stewart.The Shape of Water won a leading four awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro. Dunkirk won three awards; Blade Runner 2049, Coco, Darkest Hour, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won two awards each. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor awards for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri while Gary Oldman won Best Actor for Darkest Hour. Allison Janney won Best Supporting Actress honor for I, Tonya. With a U.S. viewership of 26.5 million, it was the least-watched show in Oscar history.

91st Academy Awards

The 91st Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2018, and took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. The ceremony was held on February 24, 2019. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories. The ceremony was televised in the United States by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), produced by Donna Gigliotti and Glenn Weiss, with Weiss also serving as director. It was the first ceremony in three decades, since the 61st Academy Awards in 1989, to be conducted with no host.

In related events, the Academy held its 10th Annual Governors Awards ceremony at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center on November 18, 2018. The Academy Scientific and Technical Awards were presented by host actor David Oyelowo on February 9, 2019, in a ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.Green Book won three awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali's portrayal of Don Shirley, and Bohemian Rhapsody led the ceremony with four awards, including Best Actor for Rami Malek's portrayal of Freddie Mercury. Roma and Black Panther also received three awards apiece, with the former winning Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón and becoming the first Mexican submission to win Best Foreign Language Film. Olivia Colman was awarded Best Actress for portraying Anne, Queen of Great Britain in The Favourite. With a U.S. viewership of 29.6 million, it marked a 12% increase over the 2018 ceremony.

Academy Award for Best Actor

The Academy Award for Best Actor is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given in honor of an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role while working within the film industry. The award was traditionally presented by the previous year's Best Actress winner.

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929 with Emil Jannings receiving the award for his roles in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. Currently, nominees are determined by single transferable vote within the actors branch of AMPAS; winners are selected by a plurality vote from the entire eligible voting members of the Academy.In the first three years of the awards, actors were nominated as the best in their categories. At that time, all of their work during the qualifying period (as many as three films, in some cases) was listed after the award. However, during the 3rd ceremony held in 1930, only one of those films was cited in each winner's final award, even though each of the acting winners had two films following their names on the ballots. The following year, this system was replaced by the current system in which an actor is nominated for a specific performance in a single film. Starting with the 9th ceremony held in 1937, the category was officially limited to five nominations per year.Since its inception, the award has been given to 82 actors. Daniel Day-Lewis has received the most awards in this category with three Oscars. Spencer Tracy and Laurence Olivier were nominated on nine occasions, more than any other actor. Peter O' Toole remains the only actor to be nominated on eight occasions without a single win. James Dean remains the only actor to have been posthumously nominated in this category on more than one occasion. As of the 91st Academy Awards, Rami Malek is the most recent winner in this category for portraying Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Academy Award for Best Actress

The Academy Award for Best Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given in honor of an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role while working within the film industry. The award was traditionally presented by the previous year's Best Actor winner.

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929 with Janet Gaynor receiving the award for her roles in 7th Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise. Currently, nominees are determined by single transferable vote within the actors branch of AMPAS; winners are selected by a plurality vote from the entire eligible voting members of the Academy. In the first three years of the awards, actresses were nominated as the best in their categories. At that time, all of their work during the qualifying period (as many as three films, in some cases) was listed after the award. However, during the 3rd ceremony held in 1930, only one of those films was cited in each winner's final award, even though each of the acting winners had two films following their names on the ballots.The following year, this unwieldy and confusing system was replaced by the current system in which an actress is nominated for a specific performance in a single film. Starting with the 9th ceremony held in 1937, the category was officially limited to five nominations per year. One actress has been nominated posthumously, Jeanne Eagels. Since its inception, the award has been given to 76 actresses. Katharine Hepburn has won the most awards in this category, with four Oscars. With 17 nominations, Meryl Streep is the most nominated in this category, resulting in two wins. As of the 2019 ceremony, Olivia Colman is the most recent winner in this category for her portrayal of Anne, Queen of Great Britain in The Favourite.

Academy Award for Best Picture

The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards (Oscars) presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) since the awards debuted in 1929. This award goes to the producers of the film and is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible to submit a nomination and vote on the final ballot. Best Picture is the final award of the night and is considered the most prestigious honor of the ceremony.The Grand Staircase columns at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, where the Academy Awards ceremonies have been held since 2002, showcase every film that has won the Best Picture title since the award's inception. There have been 554 films nominated for Best Picture and 91 winners.

Academy Awards

The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are a set of awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar".

The award was originally sculpted by George Stanley from a design sketch by Cedric Gibbons. AMPAS first presented it in 1929 at a private dinner hosted by Douglas Fairbanks in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The Academy Awards ceremony was first broadcast on radio in 1930 and televised for the first time in 1953. It is the oldest worldwide entertainment awards ceremony and is now seen live worldwide. Its equivalents – the Emmy Awards for television, the Tony Awards for theater, and the Grammy Awards for music – are modeled after the Academy Awards.The 91st Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best films of 2018, was held on February 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre, in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony was broadcast on ABC. A total of 3,096 Oscar statuettes have been awarded from the inception of the award through the 91st ceremony. It was the first ceremony since 1988 without a host.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS (often pronounced am-pas); also known as simply the Academy or the Motion Picture Academy) is a professional honorary organization with the stated goal of advancing the arts and sciences of motion pictures. The Academy's corporate management and general policies are overseen by a Board of Governors, which includes representatives from each of the craft branches.

The roster of the Academy's approximately 6,000 motion picture professionals is a "closely guarded secret". While the great majority of its members are based in the United States, membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world.

The Academy is known around the world for its annual Academy Awards, now officially and popularly known as "The Oscars".In addition, the Academy holds the Governors Awards annually for lifetime achievement in film; presents Scientific and Technical Awards annually; gives Student Academy Awards annually to filmmakers at the undergraduate and graduate level; awards up to five Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting annually; and operates the Margaret Herrick Library (at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study) in Beverly Hills, California, and the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The Academy plans to open the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles in 2019.

Anthony Hopkins

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins (born 31 December 1937) is a Welsh actor, director, and producer. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992, and was nominated three additional times. Hopkins has also won three BAFTAs, two Emmys, and the Cecil B. DeMille Award. In 1993, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts. Hopkins received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003, and in 2008, he received the BAFTA Fellowship for lifetime achievement from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.After graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in 1957, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and was then spotted by Laurence Olivier who invited him to join the Royal National Theatre. In 1968, he achieved renown, playing Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter. In the mid-1970s, Richard Attenborough, who would direct five Hopkins films, called him "the greatest actor of his generation."

Hopkins portrayed Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, its sequel Hannibal, and the prequel Red Dragon. Other notable films include The Mask of Zorro, The Bounty, Meet Joe Black, The Elephant Man, Magic, 84 Charing Cross Road, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Legends of the Fall, Thor and its sequels, The Remains of the Day, Amistad, Nixon, The World's Fastest Indian, Instinct and Fracture. In 2015, he starred in the BBC television film The Dresser, and since 2016, he has starred in the HBO television series Westworld.

Cate Blanchett

Catherine Elise Blanchett, (; born 14 May 1969) is an Australian actress and theatre director. She has received many accolades, including two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and three BAFTA Awards. Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007, and in 2018, she was ranked among the highest-paid actresses in the world.

After graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Blanchett began her acting career on the Australian stage, taking on roles in Electra in 1992 and Hamlet in 1994. She came to international attention for portraying Elizabeth I of England in the drama film Elizabeth (1998), for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress and earned her first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in the biographical drama The Aviator (2004), earned her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and she won Best Actress for playing a neurotic divorcée in the black comedy-drama Blue Jasmine (2013). Her other Oscar-nominated roles were in the dramas Notes on a Scandal (2006), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), I'm Not There (2007), and Carol (2015).

Blanchett's most commercially successful films include The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit trilogy (2012–2014), Babel (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Cinderella (2015), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), and Ocean's 8 (2018). From 2008 to 2013, Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton served as the artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. Some of her stage roles during this period were in revivals of A Streetcar Named Desire, Uncle Vanya, and The Maids. She made her Broadway debut in 2017 with The Present, for which she received a Tony Award nomination.

Blanchett has been awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian government, who made her a companion of the Order of Australia in 2017. She was appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2012. She has been presented with a Doctor of Letters from the University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, and Macquarie University. In 2015, she was honoured by the Museum of Modern Art and received the British Film Institute Fellowship.

Denzel Washington

Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. (born December 28, 1954) is an American actor, director, and producer. He has received two Golden Globe awards, one Tony Award, and two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical war drama film Glory (1989) and Best Actor for his role as corrupt detective Alonzo Harris in the crime thriller Training Day (2001).Washington has received much critical acclaim for his film work since the 1980s, including his portrayals of real-life figures, such as South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Cry Freedom (1987), Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X in Malcolm X (1992), boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in The Hurricane (1999), football coach Herman Boone in Remember the Titans (2000), poet and educator Melvin B. Tolson in The Great Debaters (2007), and drug kingpin Frank Lucas in American Gangster (2007). He has been a featured actor in films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and has been a frequent collaborator of directors Spike Lee, Antoine Fuqua, and Tony Scott. In 2016, he received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards.

In 2002, Washington made his directorial debut with the biographical film Antwone Fisher. His second directorial effort was The Great Debaters (2007). His third film, Fences (2016), in which he also starred, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Gone with the Wind (film)

Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film, adapted from Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel of the same name. The film was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures and directed by Victor Fleming. Set in the American South against the backdrop of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era, the film tells the story of Scarlett O'Hara, the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner. It follows her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes, who is married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, and her subsequent marriage to Rhett Butler. The leading roles are played by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett), Clark Gable (Rhett), Leslie Howard (Ashley), and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie).

Production was difficult from the start. Filming was delayed for two years because of Selznick's determination to secure Gable for the role of Rhett Butler, and the "search for Scarlett" led to 1,400 women being interviewed for the part. The original screenplay was written by Sidney Howard and underwent many revisions by several writers in an attempt to get it down to a suitable length. The original director, George Cukor, was fired shortly after filming began and was replaced by Fleming, who in turn was briefly replaced by Sam Wood while Fleming took some time off due to exhaustion.

The film received positive reviews upon its release in December 1939, although some reviewers found it overlong. The casting was widely praised, and many reviewers found Leigh especially suited to her role as Scarlett. At the 12th Academy Awards, it received ten Academy Awards (eight competitive, two honorary) from thirteen nominations, including wins for Best Picture, Best Director (Fleming), Best Adapted Screenplay (posthumously awarded to Sidney Howard), Best Actress (Leigh), and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, becoming the first African American to win an Academy Award). It set records for the total number of wins and nominations at the time.

Gone with the Wind was immensely popular when first released. It became the highest-earning film made up to that point, and held the record for over a quarter of a century. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the most successful film in box-office history. It was re-released periodically throughout the 20th century and became ingrained in popular culture. The film is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time; it has placed in the top ten of the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 American films since the list's inception in 1998. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Jack Nicholson

John Joseph Nicholson (born April 22, 1937) is an American actor and filmmaker who has performed for over sixty years. He is known for playing a wide range of starring or supporting roles, including satirical comedy, romance, and dark portrayals of anti-heroes and villainous characters. In many of his films, he has played the "eternal outsider, the sardonic drifter", someone who rebels against the social structure.His most known and celebrated films include the road drama Easy Rider (1969); the dramas Five Easy Pieces (1970) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975); the comedy-dramas The Last Detail (1973), Terms of Endearment (1983), As Good as It Gets (1997), About Schmidt (2002), and The Bucket List (2007); the neo-noir mystery Chinatown (1974); the horror film The Shining (1980); the biopic Reds (1981); the fantasy comedy The Witches of Eastwick (1987); the superhero film Batman (1989) as the Joker; the legal drama A Few Good Men (1992); the romantic horror film Wolf (1994); the science fiction comedy Mars Attacks! (1996); the comedy Anger Management (2003); the romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give (2003); and the crime drama The Departed (2006). Nicholson has not acted in a film since How Do You Know in 2010, but does not consider himself to be retired. He has also directed three films, including The Two Jakes (1990), the sequel to Chinatown.

Nicholson's 12 Academy Award nominations make him the most nominated male actor in the Academy's history. Nicholson has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice – one for the drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), and the other for the romantic comedy As Good as It Gets (1997). He also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the comedy-drama Terms of Endearment (1983). Nicholson is one of three male actors to win three Academy Awards. Nicholson is one of only two actors to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s; the other is Michael Caine. He has won six Golden Globe Awards, and received the Kennedy Center Honor in 2001. In 1994, at 57, he became one of the youngest actors to be awarded the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award.

He has had a number of high-profile relationships, most notably with Anjelica Huston and Rebecca Broussard, and was married to Sandra Knight from 1962 until their divorce in 1968. Nicholson has five children – one with Knight, two with Broussard (including Lorraine Nicholson), and one each with Susan Anspach and Winnie Hollman.

Martin Scorsese

Martin Charles Scorsese (, Italian: [skorˈseːze; -eːse]; born November 17, 1942) is an American filmmaker and historian, whose career spans more than 50 years. Scorsese's body of work addresses such themes as Italian and Sicilian-American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, faith, machismo, modern crime, and gang conflict. Many of his films are also known for their depiction of violence and liberal use of profanity.

Part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in cinematic history. In 1990, he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation. He is a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to the cinema, and has won an Academy Award, a Palme d'Or, Cannes Film Festival Best Director Award, Silver Lion, Grammy Award, Emmys, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Directors Guild of America Awards.

He has directed works such as the crime film Mean Streets (1973), the vigilante-thriller Taxi Driver (1976), the biographical sports drama Raging Bull (1980), the black comedies The King of Comedy (1983), and After Hours (1985), the religious epic drama The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), the crime film Goodfellas (1990), the psychological thriller Cape Fear (1991) and the crime film Casino (1995), some of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro. Scorsese has also been noted for his successful collaborations with actor Leonardo DiCaprio, having directed him in five films, beginning with Gangs of New York (2002) and most recently The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Their third film together, The Departed (2006), won Scorsese the Academy Award for Best Director in addition to the film winning the award for Best Picture. Their collaborations have resulted in numerous Academy Award nominations for both as well as them winning several other prestigious awards.

Scorsese's other film work includes the biographical drama The Aviator (2004), the psychological thriller Shutter Island (2010), the historical adventure drama Hugo (2011) and the religious epic Silence (2016). His work in television includes the pilot episodes of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire and Vinyl, the latter of which he also co-created. With eight Best Director Oscar nominations, he is the most nominated living director and is tied with Billy Wilder for the second-most nominations overall. As a fan of rock music, he has directed several documentaries on the subject, including The Last Waltz (1978), No Direction Home (2005), Shine a Light (2008), and George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011).

Paul Rudd

Paul Stephen Rudd (born April 6, 1969) is an American actor, comedian, writer, and film producer. Rudd studied theatre at the University of Kansas and the American Drama Academy, before making his acting debut in 1992 with NBC's drama series Sisters. He is known for his starring roles in the films Clueless (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), Role Models (2008), I Love You, Man (2009), This Is 40 (2012), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), The Fundamentals of Caring (2016), Mute (2018), and Ideal Home (2018). Beginning in 2015, Rudd has played Scott Lang/Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in Ant-Man (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), and the upcoming Avengers: Endgame (2019).

In addition to his film career, Rudd has appeared in numerous television shows, including the NBC sitcom Friends as Mike Hannigan, along with guest roles on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Parks and Recreation (as businessman Bobby Newport) and hosting Saturday Night Live. Rudd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 1, 2015.

Robert De Niro

Robert Anthony De Niro Jr. (, Italian: [de ˈniːro]; born August 17, 1943) is an American actor, producer, and director. He is a recipient of various accolades, including two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, the Cecil B DeMille Award, AFI Life Achievement Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and has been nominated for six BAFTA Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards.

De Niro was cast as the young Vito Corleone in the 1974 film The Godfather Part II, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His longtime collaboration with director Martin Scorsese earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull.

De Niro's first major film roles were in the sports drama Bang the Drum Slowly (1973) and Scorsese's crime film Mean Streets (1973). He earned Academy Award nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver (1976) and Cape Fear (1991), both directed by Scorsese. De Niro received additional nominations for Michael Cimino's Vietnam war drama The Deer Hunter (1978), Penny Marshall's drama Awakenings (1990), and David O. Russell's romantic comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook (2012). His portrayal of gangster Jimmy Conway in Scorsese's crime film Goodfellas (1990), and his role as Rupert Pupkin in the black comedy film The King of Comedy (1982), earned him BAFTA Award nominations.De Niro has earned four nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, for his work in the musical drama New York, New York (1977), the action comedy Midnight Run (1988), the gangster comedy Analyze This (1999), and the comedy Meet the Parents (2000). Other notable performances include roles in 1900 (1976), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Brazil (1985), The Mission (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Heat (1995), and Casino (1995). He has directed and starred in films such as the crime drama A Bronx Tale (1993) and the spy film The Good Shepherd (2006).

Spike Lee

Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee (born March 20, 1957) is an American film director, producer, writer, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983.

He made his directorial debut with She's Gotta Have It (1986), and has since directed such films as Do the Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), Malcolm X (1992), He Got Game (1998), The Original Kings of Comedy (2000), 25th Hour (2002), Inside Man (2006), Chi-Raq (2015), and BlacKkKlansman (2018). Lee also had starring roles in ten of his own films.

Lee's films have examined race relations, colorism in the black community, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues. He has won numerous accolades for his work, including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a Student Academy Award, a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, two Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and the Cannes Grand Prix. He has also received an Academy Honorary Award, an Honorary BAFTA Award, an Honorary César, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.

The Silence of the Lambs (film)

The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American psychological horror-thriller film directed by Jonathan Demme from a screenplay written by Ted Tally, adapted from Thomas Harris's 1988 novel of the same name. The film stars Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, and Anthony Heald. In the film, Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee, seeks the advice of the imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer to apprehend another serial killer, known only as "Buffalo Bill", who skins his female victims' corpses. The novel was Harris's first and second respectively to feature the characters of Starling and Lecter, and was the second adaptation of a Harris novel to feature Lecter, preceded by the Michael Mann-directed Manhunter (1986).

The Silence of the Lambs was released on February 14, 1991, and grossed $272.7 million worldwide against its $19 million budget, becoming the fifth-highest grossing film of 1991 worldwide. The film premiered at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival, where it competed for the Golden Bear, while Demme received the Silver Bear for Best Director.

Critically acclaimed upon release, it became only the third film, (the other two being It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It is also the first (and so far only) Best Picture winner widely considered to be a horror film, and one of only four such films to be nominated in the category, along with The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975), and Get Out (2017).It is regularly cited by critics, film directors, and audiences alike as one of the greatest and most influential films of all time. In 2018, Empire ranked it 48th on their list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. The American Film Institute, ranked it as the 5th greatest and most influential thriller film of all time while the characters Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter were ranked as the greatest film heroine and villain respectively. The film is considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the U.S. Library of Congress and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry in 2011. A sequel titled Hannibal was released in 2001, in which Hopkins reprised his role. It was followed by two prequels: Red Dragon (2002) and Hannibal Rising (2007).

Titanic (1997 film)

Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.

Cameron's inspiration for the film came from his fascination with shipwrecks; he felt a love story interspersed with the human loss would be essential to convey the emotional impact of the disaster. Production began in 1995, when Cameron shot footage of the actual Titanic wreck. The modern scenes on the research vessel were shot on board the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh, which Cameron had used as a base when filming the wreck. Scale models, computer-generated imagery, and a reconstruction of the Titanic built at Baja Studios were used to re-create the sinking. The film was partially funded by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox; the former handled distribution in North America while Fox released the film internationally. It was the most expensive film ever made at the time, with a production budget of $200 million.

Upon its release on December 19, 1997, Titanic achieved critical and commercial success. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards, it tied All About Eve (1950) for the most Oscar nominations, and won 11, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director, tying Ben-Hur (1959) for the most Oscars won by a single film. With an initial worldwide gross of over $1.84 billion, Titanic was the first film to reach the billion-dollar mark. It remained the highest-grossing film of all time until Cameron's Avatar surpassed it in 2010. A 3D version of Titanic, released on April 4, 2012, to commemorate the centennial of the sinking, earned it an additional $343.6 million worldwide, pushing the film's worldwide total to $2.18 billion and making it the second film to gross more than $2 billion worldwide (after Avatar). In 2017, the film was re-released for its 20th anniversary and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Tom Hanks

Thomas Jeffrey Hanks (born July 9, 1956) is an American actor and filmmaker. Hanks is known for his comedic and dramatic roles in such films as Splash (1984), Big (1988), Turner & Hooch (1989), A League of Their Own (1992), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Apollo 13 (1995), You've Got Mail (1998), The Green Mile (1999), Cast Away (2000), Road to Perdition (2002), Cloud Atlas (2012), Captain Phillips (2013), Saving Mr. Banks (2013), and Sully (2016). He has also starred in the Robert Langdon film series, and voices Sheriff Woody in the Toy Story film series. He is one of the most popular and recognizable film stars worldwide, and is widely regarded as an American cultural icon.

Hanks has collaborated with film director Steven Spielberg on five films to date: Saving Private Ryan (1998), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Terminal (2004), Bridge of Spies (2015), and The Post (2017), as well as the 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers, which launched Hanks as a successful director, producer, and screenwriter. In 2010, Spielberg and Hanks were executive producers on the HBO miniseries The Pacific.

Hanks' films have grossed more than $4.6 billion at U.S. and Canadian box offices and more than $9.2 billion worldwide, making him the fourth highest-grossing actor in North America. Hanks has been nominated for numerous awards during his career. He won a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Philadelphia (1993), as well as a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a People's Choice Award for Best Actor for Forrest Gump (1994). In 1995, Hanks became one of only two actors who won the Academy Award for Best Actor in consecutive years, with Spencer Tracy being the other. In 2004, he received the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). In 2014, he received a Kennedy Center Honor, and in 2016, he received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, as well as the French Legion of Honor.

United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River with a scenic view, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. It is one of the five U.S. service academies.

The Academy traces its roots to 1801, when President Thomas Jefferson directed, shortly after his inauguration, that plans be set in motion to establish the United States Military Academy at West Point. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites, buildings, and monuments. The majority of the campus's Norman-style buildings are constructed from gray and black granite. The campus is a popular tourist destination, with a visitor center and the oldest museum in the United States Army.

Candidates for admission must both apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination, usually from a member of Congress or Delegate/Resident Commissioner in the case of Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. Other nomination sources include the President and Vice President of the United States. Students are officers-in-training and are referred to as "cadets" or collectively as the "United States Corps of Cadets" (USCC). Tuition for cadets is fully funded by the Army in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation. Approximately 1,300 cadets enter the Academy each July, with about 1,000 cadets graduating.

The academic program grants a bachelor of science degree with a curriculum that grades cadets' performance upon a broad academic program, military leadership performance, and mandatory participation in competitive athletics. Cadets are required to adhere to the Cadet Honor Code, which states that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." The academy bases a cadet's leadership experience as a development of all three pillars of performance: academics, physical, and military.

Most graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army. Foreign cadets are commissioned into the armies of their home countries. Since 1959, cadets have also been eligible for an interservice commission, a commission in one of the other armed services, provided they meet that service's eligibility standards. Most years, a very small number of cadets do this.

The academy's traditions have influenced other institutions because of its age and unique mission. It was the first American college to have an accredited civil-engineering program and the first to have class rings, and its technical curriculum was a model for later engineering schools. West Point's student body has a unique rank structure and lexicon. All cadets reside on campus and dine together en masse on weekdays for breakfast and lunch. The academy fields fifteen men's and nine women's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports teams. Cadets compete in one sport every fall, winter, and spring season at the intramural, club, or intercollegiate level. Its football team was a national power in the early and mid-20th century, winning three national championships. Its alumni and students are collectively referred to as "The Long Gray Line" and its ranks include two Presidents of the United States (as well as the President of the Confederate States of America), presidents of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the Philippines, numerous famous generals, and seventy-six Medal of Honor recipients.

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