Not Just for a Job…

Our new University President, Dr. Guy Bailey–who, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, earned his own B.A. and M.A. at the University of Alabama (in English)–arrived on campus about a month or so ago, and in a recent interview, had this to say in reply to the following question:

Q. What did UA give to you as a student that you want current students to receive?

A. Our students should have the highest quality education at the best possible value. Their degree and education should equip them not just for a job, but for any career the future might hold for them. UA gave me the ability to write well and think critically. This is what the core curriculum provides and its importance shouldn’t be underestimated today.”

What do you think the relationship is between job training and education? Which do you think the contemporary university is all about? Why do we have a core curriculum? And what’s the liberal arts got to do with it?

Info, Info Everywhere, But Which of it to Drink?

About a week ago, a friend at Ursinus College, in Pennsylvania, brought to my attention an online article written by his colleague in their Department of Politics and International Relations, about enrolling in a MOOC (massive open online course) to see what all the fuss was about. You may have heard about these courses–hosted by companies, such as Coursera, that have entered into agreements with schools, they provide the content for courses at some of the country’s leading universities–for free. (Fearing that they were behind this curve was among the apparent reasons why the University’s of Virginia’s Board of Visitors ousted–temporarily–their President this past summer.) Continue reading

Just What Are “The Humanities”?

So, just what are “the Humanities”? We know that, at the University of Alabama, the 23 or so Departments that comprise the College of Arts & Sciences are divided among three divisions: The Humanities and Fine Arts; the Social Sciences, and the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The Department of Religious Studies, like the Departments of English, Theatre and Dance (the British spelling is not a typo), and the School of Music, are grouped together in the Humanities, to name just a few of the others. The Department History, which, throughout the history of the European university was commonly placed within the Humanities–such as in the Alabama Humanities Foundation‘s description (below)–is, however, classed on our campus within the Social Sciences, along with such Departments as Psychology, Anthropology, Criminal Justice, and New College, to name but a few Social Science units–though, come to think of it, New College describes itself as an “interdisciplinary liberal arts program,” which complicates things further, for we now need to inquire into the relationship between the liberal arts (sometimes known as the liberalizing arts) and the Humanities. More on that below. Continue reading