This blog may not be without import. The first article ever published here in November 2009 (on the birthday of Socrates) told the tale of my Alma Mater’s reclassification of all liberal arts degrees as “various” in their alumni publication. The article was in part inspired by Professor Robert Nielsen, who at a fireside chat some years ago said you can tell the values of a place of higher learning by their advertising, and for some years it seemed only career degrees were the focus of the college’s marketing.
Hold that thought.
Sometime since, the content of that article made its way to the president of the college, who after reading my lament of the apparently diminshing soul of the institution, was quoted as saying “Well, we’ll have to do something about that, wont we?” My subsequent optimism for good intentions was held in check by the realism of undeniable, constant market forces upon such human endeavors, however lofty.
The Humanities are the soul of civilization and culture, the college or university being an archytpe microcosm representing the whole. It is perhaps a lens by which the higher aspects of Man are focused upon society, and very often this influence is a two way street to every purpose from base to idealistic. The demise of learning for its own sake means the demise of a compassless world. Would I find hope in my own dear microcosm?
On my way to teach Tai Chi yesterday morning, I nearly ran off the road (no less than an elevated thruway with guard rails and no shoulder) when confronted by a billboard of D’Youville College emblazoned with the words “Liberal Arts: The Core of Education”.
I could hypothesize the powers that be are taking a stand on what’s truly important, living up to its creed and mission in spite of appearing anachronistic. I could infer a shift in the demands and preferences of the coming-of-age consumer, the emergence again of a generation that does not want to be a “product” of a system but it’s inheritor and master.
Personally, no matter the direction of cause and effect, I’ll take this simple sign as a win.