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Thursday, March 31, 2016

What do we do in the liberal arts?

A couple of weeks ago, while desperately awaiting my bag of 5 pretzels on a flight, I got to thinking about the idea that in the liberal arts and in this college we transform lives. I have used that expression myself many, many times. Whether within the college, in discussions with folks in other parts of the university, or with alums, donors, friends, regents, and others, I have conveyed that message many times. I deeply believe it to be true.

Pretzels in hand, I mused on this a little more. What do we mean by transforming lives? Or, put differently, what kind of lives do we believe the liberal arts build? What is the result of our teaching, research, and creativity? A number of ways to think about this question immediately came to mind. Research, creative work, and instruction in the liberal arts promotes, builds, and helps our students and societies achieve the ethical life, the beautiful life, the artistic life, the virtuous life, the literate life, the thinking life, the learning life, the inventive life, the innovative life, the questioning life, the analytical life, the adaptive life, the responsible life, the inclusive life, the just life, the committed life, the inspirational life, the aspirational life, the participatory life, the engaged life, the communicative life, the connecting life, the global life, the employed life, the productive life, the successful life, the joyful life, the human life. Over the top? I don’t think so. These are among the fruits of liberal arts education and research that is both broad and deep. Remarkable. What we do here in the College of Liberal Arts in transforming lives is profound. It is something for which you should feel great pride.