On Monday, November 18, at 5 pm, CAHI will host a Roundtable on the Civic Function of the Arts and Humanities at the University Club of the IMU. We have three guests: Lauren Robel, Provost of IUB, Professor Sara Guyer, Director of the Humanities Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Jason Kelly, Director of the Humanities Center at IUPUI.
I have asked each of them to talk for a short 10 minutes, then we will open the floor to conversation. I hope you agree this issue is timely and important, and that you will participate in the discussion.
There seems to be new press and opinion pieces on the “fate” or “crisis” of the Humanities every other day the past six months; most recently, a front-page piece in the New York Times. However one reads the tea leaves, the conversation has certainly revealed some basic fissures in attitudes toward undergraduate education and the value of humanistic study.
Given what seems a widespread view that education needs to be unambiguously instrumental to gainful employment, and that earning power after graduation is the most appropriate measure of the value of the education, where do other arguments stand? The “liberal arts” model stresses studying many subjects, discovering the interconnections between them, and developing skills and powers—of expression, of analysis—that are not destined to any particular profession or career. This model is struggling for visibility, if not viability—with students and parents, with public opinion, and sometimes with university administrations. I hope our Roundtable can address ways in which we might enhance arguments about the study of the arts and humanities—a core component of any liberal arts education—as of value to students, the economy, and the public.
This is broad, I know, but we can address many topics within it: the relation between research in the arts and humanities and the address to the public; the role of critique as central to traditions of humanistic thought; the balance between a commitment to the past, intervention in the present, and imagination of the future; and more…