One of the functions of higher educational systems everywhere has been the recruitment of an elite; for until the mass-education experiments of the twentieth century, highly educated members of major historical societies have been the chosen few. Similarly, the content of higher education has formed a culture the monopoly of which has served to set the highly educated apart from the common man. Hence the system of higher education in most societies forms a well-recognized institutional avenue of approach, not only to a society's high literary culture, but to prestige and power as well. These important properties of higher educational systems suggest that the content of higher education may have a social utility for the educated elite quite apart from its informational value. In this paper we examine the relationship between the college curriculum and the social reform activities of the educated elite of one Indian province, Bombay, in the late nineteenth century.