Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Latin Caroling - 2013

Latin students - and this year, also "Latin Alumni" or survivors - sang carols in Mishler House for the second year.  We'll post a sample of the, um, singing later if we can figure out how to do it.  In the mean time, here are the winners of the "best ugly sweater" contest:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Forum: An Undergraduate Book Review, 2013/2014 Edition

Tommy Pochedly and Zac Hoffman, who are the student editors for Forum: An Undergraduate Book Review at Ashland University, are inviting students interested  in seeing their name in print to contact them about writing a review. Any undergraduate at AU is eligible and the first ten reviews to be selected for publication will win $75 each.  You can see some earlier reviews by clicking on "Forum" in the links to the right of this page.  Here is the whole announcement (with contact information): 

We are pleased to announce that the student book review, The Forum, is being reactivated on campus. Please do not confuse The Forum book review with The Forum speech society as they are not the same organization. The Forum Book Review offers students a chance to win cash for writing book reviews.

 Prior to Christmas break you will need to select a serious book which you wish to review. The book you choose does not have to be non-fiction or political, but it should not be a children’s book or a commonly read high school text. Novels will also be accepted as they often pose moral questions or critiques on society. In essence, when selecting a book, it should offer something of public interest.

Once you have selected the book you wish to review, you need to notify the editors by sending an email to tpochedl@ashland.edu . We will approve your choice if it falls within the above guidelines. We have also compiled a list of possible books to review which you can select from if you are unable to find a book to review on your own. Once your book has been approved, you will need to read said book over Christmas break, write a review and submit it to the above email by January 20th.

We will edit your submissions and allow you to revise it. We are looking to print approximately 12 reviews.  The first ten reviews to be accepted for publication will be worth $75. This is a competitive contest. Reviews will be selected on the basis of merit. Submitting a book review does not guarantee you $75, only reviews selected for publication will receive money. It is possible for an author to have multiple reviews published. Final drafts of book reviews will be 600-800 words in length. Do not feel pressured to strictly constrain your initial draft to that number though.

I hope many of you will take advantage of this opportunity. If you are interested or have any questions, please direct those to the email address above.  

-Tommy Pochedly and Zac Hoffman

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Latin Caroling - December 6

You are invited to hear and even join in the singing of some Christmas Carols in Latin.  (In case you missed it last year, see the photos and video on the December 5, 2012 blog entry).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Focusing Too Narrowly in College Could Backfire

So argues Peter Capelli in the Wall Street Journal (11/15/13).  "Students are told to learn the subjects that will best land them a job when they graduate.  But that could be the worst thing they could do."  Read the argument here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thinking for Oneself

Over the last year there has been a steady stream of articles about the “crisis in the humanities,” fostering a sense that students are stampeding from liberal education toward more vocationally oriented studies. In fact, the decline in humanities enrollments, as some have pointed out, is wildly overstated, and much of that decline occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. Still, the press is filled with tales about parents riding herd on their offspring lest they be attracted to literature or history rather than to courses that teach them to develop new apps for the next, smarter phone.
So goes the first paragraph of this useful column on the humanities and liberal arts education by Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan University (November 12, 2013, InsideHigherEd.com).  Roth gives a brief history of the ups and downs of the humanities in relation to the sciences in the last century of American higher education and argues that we should not let the hopes we place in the STEM subjects undermine our "well-founded faith in the capacity of the humanities to help us resist 'the straitjackets of conventional formulas.'"   "Totalitarian regimes," he point out, "embraced technological development (in the 1930s), but they could not tolerate the free discussion that led to a critical appraisal of civic values."  He concludes that "our independence, our freedom, has depended on not letting anyone else do our thinking for us. And that has demanded learning for its own sake; it has demanded a liberal education. It still does."

You can read the whole article below the break:

Friday, November 8, 2013

At Karlštejn Castle

September Long (History and Political Science, 2015) looks out from Karlštejn Castle near Prague in the Czech Republic, where she is studying this semester. She loves the city, the cultural experience, and the chance to travel to other countries.  She says her political science classes are not so great ("primary works and literature are not used in the political science or history classes here at all"), but "Prague Art and Architecture", where they study the development of art from the founding of Prague Castle through the fall of communism and its impact on Czech culture as a whole has been "a really intriguing class." Students at the Anglo-American University come from many different countries and September says that while most are really nice, "it is both interesting and disheartening to realize how most people (students and professors alike) misinterpret America and her role in the world."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Lyons and Werneke on Winston Churchill

Justin Lyons and former student Dantan Wernecke (Political Science, 2012) both have essays forthcoming in "Finest Hour", No. 160.  Professor Lyons writes on "Winston Churchill's Critique of Woodrow Wilson," while Dantan writes on "Herbert Hoover's Critique of Winston Churchill."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What is Liberal Education?

In the previous post, we mention a symposium on the future of liberal education.  There is a lot of good information and argument in the papers delivered in that symposium, but one particularly nice description of what a liberal education is can be found in "Why Do We Wear These Robes and These Hoods?", which was originally delivered at a Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony. Author Timothy Burns points out that the Greek letters, Phi Beta Kappa, "stand for Philosophia Biou Kubernetes: philosophy, or love of wisdom, as the guide of life." Burns begins his explanation of what what liberal education is like this:

[P]erhaps the best starting point for getting a hold of its purpose is the adjective in the term liberal education. “Liberal tells us that the education was originally held to be education that becomes a free human being, a liber, rather than a slave (i.e., a human being with the potential for sufficient virtues of mind and heart to rule himself or herself within a society of like-minded human beings). It is an education aimed at developing the human potential to be free—to be not in need, as slaves were thought to be, of being commanded and watched over and reminded of the fearful consequence of doing what a master forbids. It is an education becoming, then, a full human being, and therefore choice-worthy as an end in itself. It is a high or noble common enterprise that can fulfill ones distinctively human potential, regardless of how useful it might be for other things. Liberal education so understood is emphatically not career, or job, or professional training, in which you learn things useful for something else—information or theories” that you will apply later. For this reason, classes in preprofessional programs to this day do not count toward Phi Beta Kappa credits. In fact, to think of liberal education as a means and not an end in itself is like encouraging someone to study violin so that she can have limber fingers. It is to mistake a very real effect of liberal education for its purpose.
Liberal education is likewise emphatically not a political indoctrination, an education in how to be a liberal or a conservative.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Does Liberal Education Have a Future?

Timothy Burns, Professor of Political Science at Baylor University, opens a symposium on the Future of Liberal Education (subscription required) by saying that 
Liberal education is becoming rare in America. At the time of the founding it was de rigeur for anyone who aspired to public life. In 1900, it remained the norm in Americas colleges. And as the “core curricula of colleges and universities in 1950 attest, it remained the central, defining feature of undergraduate education as late as the mid-twentieth century. Today it is uncommon.
The symposiasts thoughtfully address a variety of questions, starting with the central ones - what is liberal education and why does it matter if it is threatened? In his introductory remarks, Timothy Burns nicely sketches some of  the main questions considered more fully  in the papers: 

Liberal education is becoming rare in America. At the time of the founding it was de rigeur for anyone who aspired to public life. In 1900, it remained the norm in Americas colleges. And as the “core curricula of colleges and universities in 1950 attest, it remained the central, defining feature of undergraduate education as late as the mid-twentieth century. Today it is uncommon. The vast majority of students graduating from state universities and colleges follow curricula that prepare them, or so they hope, for lucrative jobs. As for private universities and liberal arts colleges, with a few noteworthy exceptions, only administrators charged with raising funds still claim that there is or should be a coherent and common liberal education of their students. Their watchword is “diversity, and their courses are more and more specialized in areas of peculiar interest to their faculty.