GAEDE INSTITUTE | PROGRAMS The Conversation on the Liberal Arts
Educating for Justice: Liberal Education and the Development of Just Members of Society
January 31 - February 1, 2003
Academic institutions have long been centers of concern for justice. But with few exceptions, this concern was not built into their educational goals. Education itself was expected to be "value-free." Recently there has been a significant shift away form this expectation. Colleges and universities now widely announce that ethical judgment, character, and good citizenship are among their educational goals. Yet the theoretical foundations and the practical strategies for pursuing value-laden educational goals have remained murky. It is all too easy for institutions to go on largely as before while concern for ethical goals remains at the level of institutional rhetoric.
In an effort to bridge this gap, some sixty faculty members and academic administrators from thirty colleges and universities across the country gathered at the third annual Conversation on the Liberal Arts at Westmont College. The institutions represented ranged from small liberal arts colleges, to larger comprehensive universities, to major research universities. Some were private, others public, some religious, others not. But what these diverse institutions all had in common was a commitment to a liberal arts education as the heart of their undergraduate program. Together we considered whether fostering justice in our students is the job of higher education, whether we can do this in a society with competing conceptions of justice, and how, exactly, a liberal education is supposed to develop justice in students.
Two major results came from our conversations. First, the presenters offered concrete accounts of both the theoretical foundations and practical strategies for pursuing a value-laden educational goal, justice, without either imposing a set of values on students or retreating to a position of value-neutrality. Second, the conversations sparked by the panelists' presentations revealed a deeply-felt frustration with the ways that institutional structure and ethos inhibit educating for justice. With faculty isolated from their peers in other departments and encouraged to narrowly specialize, with accrediting agencies looking for measurable outcomes, with students focused on vocational goals, how can we think about working together to foster the virtue of justice in our students?
This latter question remained an open one as we concluded our time together and we invite you to join our ongoing conversation by subscribing to the Instituteâ€™s online discussion forum. You can do so by entering your email address in the space to the left. You can view the conference program, the papers delivered, and the list of participants by following the links above. The papers are available in print in volume two of Liberal Arts, the proceedings of the Institute for the Liberal Arts. With the growing awareness of deep injustices both within our own society and across the globe, and with the growing concern throughout our society for attending to the ethical dimension of education, we're sure this collection of papers will be of tremendous value.
Is developing just members of society the job of higher education?
- Educating for Justice and the Liberal Arts Tradition
Richard T. Hughes, Pepperdine University
- The Value of Values and Justice
Irena S.M. Makarushka, Ph.D., Association of American Colleges and Universities
- "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" Faith, Justice and the Teaching of the Humanities
Randal Jelks, Calvin College
Can we educate for justice in a pluralistic society?
- Doing Justice through—and to—the Liberal Arts
Walter Reed, Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts, Emory University
- Can We Educate for Justice in a Pluralistic Society?
Shirley Mullen, Westmont College
- Education and Public Life: An Inquiry
Rita Pougiales, The Evergreen State College
How does liberal education accomplish the development of just members of society?
- Justice and the Liberal Arts at Eastern Mennonite University
Beryl Brubaker, Eastern Mennonite University
- Students, Civic Engagment and Justice: Does Our Teaching Reinforce Apathy and Cynicism?
William Ascher, Claremont McKenna College
- Educating for Justice
James Slevin, Georgetown University
Education for what?
- A Framework for the Liberal Arts
Stan Gaede, Westmont College
William Ascher is the Donald C. McKenna Professor of Government and Economics at Claremont McKenna College, where he also serves as Vice President and Dean of the Faculty. He has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and both an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University. His research covers policymaking processes in developing countries, natural resource policymaking, Latin American and Asian political economy, and forecasting methodologies.
Beryl Brubaker is the Academic Provost at Eastern Mennonite University, where she has been serving in administrative and academic capacities since 1970. She has nursing degrees from Case Western Reserve University, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Richard T. Hughes serves as Distinguished Professor of Religion and Director of the Center for Faith and Learning at Pepperdine University where he has taught for 20 years. He has a B.A. in Bible from Harding University, an M.A. in History of Christianity from Abilene Christian University, and a Ph.D. in History of Christianity since 1500 from the University of Iowa. His scholarship focuses on the relation between religion and culture in America, church history, and the intersection of faith and learning in church-related higher education.
Randall Jelks is an Associate Professor in History at Calvin College and the Director of Academic Multicultural Affairs. He has a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan, a M.Div. from McCormick Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in History from Michigan State University. His research and writing interests are in the area of African American religious, urban and Civil Rights history
Irena Makarushka is a Senior Research Fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C. She received her B.A. in English from St. John's University, her M.A. in Religion and Literature and her Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from Boston University. She has served as faculty member and department chair, associate dean and vice president for academic affairs/dean of the faculty at several liberal arts colleges.
Shirley Mullen is the Provost and Professor of History at Westmont College. She has a B.A. from Houghton College, an M.A. in History from the University of Toronto, a Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Wales. She specializes in 19th century British history, and more generally, the history of ideas.
Rita Pougiales is an Academic Dean at the Evergreen State College. She has a B.A. in History and Anthropology from The Evergreen State College, an M.A. in Philosophy of Education and a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Education from the University of Oregon. Her main areas of interest include: anthropology, philosophy of knowledge and culture, history and practice of education, women's studies, and qualitative research methodologies.
Walter Reed is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. University Professor at Emory College and Director of Emory's Institute of the Liberal Arts. He received his B.A. and Ph.D. in English at Yale, where he also taught for seven years. His primary field is British Romanticism, but he has also taught in many other literary and interdisciplinary areas.
James Slevin is Professor of English at Georgetown University where he has taught since 1975. He is the Director of the Office of Curriculum and Pedagogy at Georgetown's Center for Social Justice. He received his B.A. from Providence College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia