Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

Summer 8-25-2015


My main message about defending the humanities and liberal arts is that divided we lose. Divided we lose. What's great about our disciplines, collectively, is the way in which they preserve and value the past, but in a context in which that past is subject to reflective and constructive critique, so that the ways in which we think about what constitutes the human keeps changing, and the collection of texts, ideas, historical events, material realities, and cultural forms we discuss with our students keeps expanding as well. The liberal arts are living arts. They are about both the perpetuation and the production of knowledge and the teaching of concrete, transferable skills, some of them directly related to the needs of employers, and others crucial to the functioning of liberal democracy and the vigilant expansion to everyone of the rights and benefits it offers. I think the best way to articulate the value of the liberal arts at a time like ours in which that value is in question, is to do it broadly, stressing the variety of ways in which a liberal arts education is essential not only to the economic, cultural and political life of the world our students are inheriting, but to their own personal lives as well. We owe it to ourselves as professors of the liberal arts to do so, but even more, we owe it to our students.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.