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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The place of the university in unsettled times

Remarks prepared for delivery at "Reaffirming Our Values, Rebuilding the Social Compact: A Campus Forum," November 14, 2016

I’d like to start by thanking the Provost for organizing this forum and for the inspirational comments made by my co-panelists. Where I will enter this discussion is by talking a bit about the educational and research missions of the university and their connection to our topic today.

Let's think first about education.

The university ensures that each of our undergraduate students is grounded in liberal education. There are many ways to think about this grounding, but I will highlight two  aspects of that education.

Monday, November 14, 2016

We All Own This

We are a College of many different backgrounds, viewpoints, and beliefs. We are Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. We are Chicano, Latino, Asian, Black, White, and American Indian. We vote for Republicans, Democrats, and other candidates. We are LGBTQ and straight. We are from Minnesota, from the United States, and from countries around the world. We are liberal, conservative, socialist, and libertarian. And we are many more individuals and groups.

We are all in this together. All of us, across all of our differences of background and viewpoint, have valuable contributions to make and must be confident we are fully free to be ourselves and be fully embraced as part of our community. Our differences of background, identity, and viewpoint strengthen our community.

You belong here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Liberal Arts and Democracy

The liberal arts are fundamental to healthy democracy. Excerpts from my recent piece at MinnPost:

Politics is not easy -- nor should it be. Much is at stake. Vigorous and forceful argument and counterargument capture our attention. They energize us and stir us to participate. We should not pine for dull and boring politics.

But we must be open to different perspectives. The liberal arts teach us to act toward others with humility and respect because we recognize there are multiple ways to look at the world. 

Placing value on empathy and community allows individuals and groups to engage in productive debate while maintaining a commitment to societal well-being.

I encourage you to read the whole thing.