"Public Universities and the Public Sphere" argues that two crises facing America - a crisis of public discourse and a crisis of public higher education - are closely connected. The center of significant public discussion in the United States is located in a core public sphere consisting of publications, associations, and universities that was consciously constructed in the nineteenth century. The modern American university originated in the process that created the core public sphere. Public universities essentially democratized the core public sphere in the twentieth century. Part of the solution, Smith argues in this timely work, to both crises lies in understanding and building on the connection.