Is ‘Liberal’ Education Out of Style?
A conversation with UM President Emeritus Mel George and Interim Deputy Provost Patricia Okker. Jim Cogswell, Director of MU Libraries, moderating.
Stotler Lounge, Memorial Union
3-4 pm, September 16, 2014
This event was sponsored by the MU Libraries on the occasion of the 175th Anniversary Commemorative Week.
The word “liberal” has a nomenclature problem – it carries baggage for some people because of its political connotations. What does a “liberal education” really mean? The origin of the word is the Latin word “liber” (free), and the history of the concept goes back at least as far as ancient Greece. A common misunderstanding is that the concept describes specific subject matter (such as “Great Books”); but a liberal education is less about specific subject matter content than about the goals and emphases of the education. For example, a liberal education carries public benefit, not simply private benefit.
There are many threats and challenges to liberal education today, including financial pressures and vocationalism. In this conversation, two highly regarded MU educators lay out compelling reasons suggesting that a liberal education is even more important today than in the past and promote the idea that its continued vitality and central role in American higher education should be ensured.