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Friday, July 22, 2016

This Summer's Events and the CLA Community

This has been a summer of tragic and challenging events, nationally, internationally, and right on our doorstep.

In the face of the conflict, violence, and division we have seen, I write to you to reaffirm that our work in the college can offer hope, understanding, and perspective to our students and to the people of Minnesota and beyond.

We in CLA analyze disparities and conflicts and place them in historical, economic, and social context. Across the arts, humanities, and social sciences, we explore and work to dispel confusion, understand sorrow, discuss individual and societal challenges, study what brings communities together and what divides them, and present beauty amidst grief. We describe and explain the past and present and imagine possible futures.

In the College of Liberal Arts, we are a community of intensely dedicated staff, outstanding faculty, and bright and passionate students. Together we offer something positive, something meaningful, to our various communities. I am immensely proud of the work we do and of the vital nature of that work.

We are committed to an inclusive and welcoming campus and college. We are committed to hearing and learning from diverse voices and perspectives. And our commitment to deep public and community engagement holds a prominent place in our CLA Roadmap.

Diversity of thought and perspective is the very bedrock of what makes the liberal arts what they are. In thinking about the events of this summer, different people will identify different issues, raise different questions, and offer different answers. We are at our best in the liberal arts when we define questions and explore answers with a broad and diverse intellectual toolbox and a humility that recognizes that insights and wisdom may be found from across the political spectrum, across our disciplinary areas, and across the many communities with which we engage.

Events this summer have taken an emotional toll on many within our community. A strong community is also a caring one. Recent events remind us to make sure that we are supportive of each other in the face of disturbing events that may take place locally, nationally, or internationally.

I urge you all to share your best right now: Share your expertise, share your perspective, share your compassion, share your engagement.