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Control over the processes of production was made more efficient by the application of the new techniques of scientific management, a concept which first achieved prominence in America. Uneconomic producers were closed down in what was called rationalization of production. In Britain, unprofitable coal mines were abandoned through cooperation between government and business. In some cases, plant efficiency was increased by better layout and labor-saving machines. American coal mining was revolutionized by the conveyor belt and mechanical cutting equipment. Material-saving devices were introduced, such as those which reduced the amount of coal necessary to generate a kilowatt of electricity. Standardization of production made the name of Henry Ford admired even in Communist Russia. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XVIII: The Western World in the Twentieth Century: The Historical Setting. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.