Guest Editor's Note

Guest Editor's Note Ian Brodie Seeking Common Ground in Discussing the Liberal Arts ThesesevenarticlesemergedoutofaconferenceorganizedaspartofthecentenarycelebrationsofSt.ThomasUniversityinFredericton,New runswick, B Canada,inSeptember2010.SpearheadedbyDr.JohnCoates,that onference-- c entitled "Looking Back and Moving Forward: The Next 100Years of Liberal Arts--ConfrontingtheChallenge"--soughttoaddressanumberofkeyissues that bring pressures to bear upon the tradition of liberal arts as it has been taught:internationalization,corporatization,diminishinggovernmentfunding, and the legacies of religious involvement. Some of the papers with concerns particulartoCanadahavebeencollectedandeditedbyCoatesforaspecialissue oftheCanadian Journal of Higher Education:theessayspresentedhereinseekto addressmoregeneralquestions,albeitoftendrawingontheCanadianexperienceforexamples. Thereislittleneedtoreiteratethecrises(ortheclaimsthereto)theliberal artsfaces:Isuspectonecouldeasilyadverttoparallelcriseshavingexistedin onemanifestationoranothersincetheearliestmemoryofthisjournal'soldest reader.Mostfrustratingisthatthevalueoftheliberalartseitherisaxiomaticor isnot.Thosewhofirmlyholdthatthereisnotonlyacontemporaryplacefor theliberalartsbutalso,moreimportantly,aneedforitmaintainthatitsvalue isself-evident:thosewhodonotseeksuasion.Theonusthusfalls(asitrightly should)onthosewithintheliberalartstoarticulatethatvalueinamannerconvincingtothoseoutside. Thereareanumberoftrapsonecanfallintointhiseffort.Thefirstistodismisstheveryquestioningofitsvalueasemanatingfromaplaceof hilistinism. P Bydoingsowenotonlyopenourselvestoachargeofelitism:weblatantlycommitit.Theliberalartshastoengagewithotherareasofinquiryandpraxiswithin the academy and beyond, admitting that the liberal arts is but one of many egitimaterealmsofhumanachievementandthatits" istinctiveness" emarcates l d d itasdifferentwithoutsuggestingthatitsitsonadifferent ierarchicalplane. h Thesecondtrapistobereductionist,todistillaliberalartseducationtoa mereformofskillsacquisition.Skillsaresurelydeveloped--theinterpretation ofasituation,theorganizationofthought,themarshalingofsourcesindefense ofanargument,thearticulationofpropositions,alongsideevenmorepractical skillslikewordprocessing,PowerPoint,anddatabasenavigation--butexpressinganeducationinsuchachecklistmannerseemstodoadisservicetothevery traditionofliberalartsthattookthoseskillsasameanstoamorenobleendand nottheendthemselves. Thethirdtrapistoshifttotheabstractandtospeakonlyoftheloftygoalsof forminggenerationsofwell-rounded,cultured,globalcitizens,withoutsuggestinghowthesephilosopher-regentswillfindwork.Thisistheobverseofthereductionisttrap:alegitimatebalanceneedstobestruckbetweenidealismandrealism, betweentheoryandpraxis,forustodareengagewithalargerculturalmatrixthat hasmovedbeyondeducationastheprivilegeddomainofaleisuredclass. Thefourthand,forourpurposes,finaltrapistofeartheotherthreeandto notengageinthedebateatall. Theissueofliberalarts"value,"inallitssensesoftheword,rangingfrom an ideal to a return on investment, strikes home in a variety of ways. From ourfundingagenciestoourfederal,state,andprovincialgovernments,leaner resourcesdemandanongoingjustificationofexpendituresonactivitieswithout immediatelyself-evidentbenefits,suchaspatents,thetrainingofhighlyqualifiedpersonnel,andclassesoflicensedprofessionals.Similarly,whendepartments putinforretirementreplacementsoradditionalmembers,wemustarticulate ourvaluewithinourowninstitutions,attimesagainstourcolleaguesinthenext building.Atthesemomentswearemostlikelytowaveoursabersanddecrythe movetowardaspreadsheetlensoftheworld.Butwemusthaveatourdisposal asimilaranswerwhenprospectivestudentsarriveatourofficedoorsgenuinely seekingadviceonwhatpaththeyshouldtakethroughuniversity.TheuniversitiesofAtlanticCanada(atwhichallbutoneofourcontributorsteach)arefaced withstudentpopulationswhoareoftenofthefirstgenerationoftheirfamily togoforpostsecondaryeducation:generationsprevioushadgreaterchancesof earningacomfortableliving(albeitanarduousone)inaresource,processing, ormanufacturingindustry.Theseoptionsareincreasinglymoreclosednow,as theyareelsewhere. St. Thomas University's century began in the forestry and mill towns of the Miramichi, in the heart of Irish Catholic New Brunswick: it was rooted in the Catholic tradition, with the liberal arts as a given and de facto solid basis for citizenship. Present day, it has maintained the association with the Churchbuthasexpandedandemergedasaleaderinundergraduateeducation The Journal of General http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of General Education Penn State University Press

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Abstract

Ian Brodie Seeking Common Ground in Discussing the Liberal Arts ThesesevenarticlesemergedoutofaconferenceorganizedaspartofthecentenarycelebrationsofSt.ThomasUniversityinFredericton,New runswick, B Canada,inSeptember2010.SpearheadedbyDr.JohnCoates,that onference-- c entitled "Looking Back and Moving Forward: The Next 100Years of Liberal Arts--ConfrontingtheChallenge"--soughttoaddressanumberofkeyissues that bring pressures to bear upon the tradition of liberal arts as it has been taught:internationalization,corporatization,diminishinggovernmentfunding, and the legacies of religious involvement. Some of the papers with concerns particulartoCanadahavebeencollectedandeditedbyCoatesforaspecialissue oftheCanadian Journal of Higher Education:theessayspresentedhereinseekto addressmoregeneralquestions,albeitoftendrawingontheCanadianexperienceforexamples. Thereislittleneedtoreiteratethecrises(ortheclaimsthereto)theliberal artsfaces:Isuspectonecouldeasilyadverttoparallelcriseshavingexistedin onemanifestationoranothersincetheearliestmemoryofthisjournal'soldest reader.Mostfrustratingisthatthevalueoftheliberalartseitherisaxiomaticor isnot.Thosewhofirmlyholdthatthereisnotonlyacontemporaryplacefor theliberalartsbutalso,moreimportantly,aneedforitmaintainthatitsvalue isself-evident:thosewhodonotseeksuasion.Theonusthusfalls(asitrightly should)onthosewithintheliberalartstoarticulatethatvalueinamannerconvincingtothoseoutside. Thereareanumberoftrapsonecanfallintointhiseffort.Thefirstistodismisstheveryquestioningofitsvalueasemanatingfromaplaceof hilistinism. P Bydoingsowenotonlyopenourselvestoachargeofelitism:weblatantlycommitit.Theliberalartshastoengagewithotherareasofinquiryandpraxiswithin the academy and beyond, admitting that the liberal arts is but one of many egitimaterealmsofhumanachievementandthatits" istinctiveness" emarcates l d d itasdifferentwithoutsuggestingthatitsitsonadifferent ierarchicalplane. h Thesecondtrapistobereductionist,todistillaliberalartseducationtoa mereformofskillsacquisition.Skillsaresurelydeveloped--theinterpretation ofasituation,theorganizationofthought,themarshalingofsourcesindefense ofanargument,thearticulationofpropositions,alongsideevenmorepractical skillslikewordprocessing,PowerPoint,anddatabasenavigation--butexpressinganeducationinsuchachecklistmannerseemstodoadisservicetothevery traditionofliberalartsthattookthoseskillsasameanstoamorenobleendand nottheendthemselves. Thethirdtrapistoshifttotheabstractandtospeakonlyoftheloftygoalsof forminggenerationsofwell-rounded,cultured,globalcitizens,withoutsuggestinghowthesephilosopher-regentswillfindwork.Thisistheobverseofthereductionisttrap:alegitimatebalanceneedstobestruckbetweenidealismandrealism, betweentheoryandpraxis,forustodareengagewithalargerculturalmatrixthat hasmovedbeyondeducationastheprivilegeddomainofaleisuredclass. Thefourthand,forourpurposes,finaltrapistofeartheotherthreeandto notengageinthedebateatall. Theissueofliberalarts"value,"inallitssensesoftheword,rangingfrom an ideal to a return on investment, strikes home in a variety of ways. From ourfundingagenciestoourfederal,state,andprovincialgovernments,leaner resourcesdemandanongoingjustificationofexpendituresonactivitieswithout immediatelyself-evidentbenefits,suchaspatents,thetrainingofhighlyqualifiedpersonnel,andclassesoflicensedprofessionals.Similarly,whendepartments putinforretirementreplacementsoradditionalmembers,wemustarticulate ourvaluewithinourowninstitutions,attimesagainstourcolleaguesinthenext building.Atthesemomentswearemostlikelytowaveoursabersanddecrythe movetowardaspreadsheetlensoftheworld.Butwemusthaveatourdisposal asimilaranswerwhenprospectivestudentsarriveatourofficedoorsgenuinely seekingadviceonwhatpaththeyshouldtakethroughuniversity.TheuniversitiesofAtlanticCanada(atwhichallbutoneofourcontributorsteach)arefaced withstudentpopulationswhoareoftenofthefirstgenerationoftheirfamily togoforpostsecondaryeducation:generationsprevioushadgreaterchancesof earningacomfortableliving(albeitanarduousone)inaresource,processing, ormanufacturingindustry.Theseoptionsareincreasinglymoreclosednow,as theyareelsewhere. St. Thomas University's century began in the forestry and mill towns of the Miramichi, in the heart of Irish Catholic New Brunswick: it was rooted in the Catholic tradition, with the liberal arts as a given and de facto solid basis for citizenship. Present day, it has maintained the association with the Churchbuthasexpandedandemergedasaleaderinundergraduateeducation The Journal of General

Journal

The Journal of General EducationPenn State University Press

Published: Oct 3, 2012

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