Liberal Education: Hope vs Fear

This afternoon I had a conversation with the wonderful Faith Middletown on WNPR about the value of liberal education at the college level. Here’s her preview:

What makes an educated person? Is it the desire to learn? The ability to be a critical thinker in any situation? Perhaps.

For me, an educated person has the capacity to be a critical thinker—and an optimist at the same time. An educated person has developed a curious mind, thinks critically, has empathy, and an optimistic view.

On our show we talk with Connecticut’s Wesleyan University President Michael Roth, author of Beyond the University, about why a liberal education matters more than ever. He argues this even in a decade of joblessness and high debt for young people or their parents.

During our conversation Faith said, let’s talk about the fear. She was referring to the fear many students have about being left behind in our very competitive economy. We also talked about the hope that is part of the educational process. Hope that through learning how to learn, we will increase our capacity to find meaning in the world and contribute effectively to the groups and networks of which we are a part. Developing the generosity of spirit and intellect through education taps into our optimism and it has, I’ve argued, real pragmatic value.

You can listen to our conversation here.