Humanity has used ritual from the beginning to teach the mysteries of their World to the next generation. Ritual is used as a Rite of Passage, as an Initiation into a select group of people (either invitational or not), as a tool for learning. It is not by chance that the different levels an initiate can move through before becoming a full member are called Degrees -- the same word that is used in universities today as a recognition of a certain amount or type of work that has been accomplished.
The universities are not the only institution that has the vestiges of ritual infused into it. Many of the churches around today, and even more that were around a couple centuries ago are infused with ritual. From the obvious taking of the Eucharist, to the less obvious potlucking (I'll post about that later).
There are some people who claim that religion is only needed and used to control the masses, that ritual is only a brainwashing technique, but that argument is only viable if you consider the human race to be inherently evil. Or, in other words, that we need controlling in order to be decent human beings. Such an argument also implies that it is somehow bad or wrong to want to become a moral individual.
But, no matter what *I* think, the general feeling out in the world is negative, and it has been for quite a number of years. Our parent's and their parents have turned away from being controlled by corporations and corporations hiding under the guise of a religion. But, I feel they threw out the good with the bad. I think there is a new generation coming who will be interested in the things their mothers and fathers threw out - just because they were thrown out, but also because ritual is one of the things human beings have always needed. That generation needs something to gather around that fits them, and they will keep looking until they find it.