The Association of American Colleges and Universities held their annual meeting during the last couple of weeks. The meeting drew more than a thousand professors and administrators from liberal-arts colleges around the country. Discussion centered on a debate of the importance of a liberal-arts education.Academics attempted to answer the big looming question from families: “Why do I send my kid to a residential college that costs me so much? What do you get out of that?” Pauline Yu, president of the American Council for Learned Societies responded by saying that college, the humanities in particular, “prepare students for deeper engagement with the central issues of living and working in a complex and interdependent world.”
In her session, “Revitalizing Humanities, Expanding the Vision of Liberal Education,” Ms. Yu insists disciplines like philosophy not only help students become more rounded human beings, but also prepare them for challenges in life and the workplace. Although, she feels the message and value of the liberal arts is not understood by most people. “I think we need to do a better job of convincing our students, parents, and the public that the humanities…are a necessary element in education for the 21st-century life,” opined Yu.
President Philip A. Glotzbach, of Skidmore College, commented on the growing obsession with instant results and test scores. Concern over the likeliness of getting a job out of college has overwhelmed conversations about higher education. “It is absolutely essential to articulate the values of higher education that really are connected in fundamental ways with our capacity to function as a democracy,” emphasized Glotzbach.
Other discussions included a debate over whether student’s moral and civic responsibilities should be a part of the college education.
Quotes courtesy of The Chrinicle for Higher Education.