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What are the purposes of higher education? What are the purposes of liberal arts colleges in America? What should be the goals of Williams College? We will begin examining these questions by studying the history of controversies in American higher education, concentrating especially on debates about the curriculum. We will then turn to contemporary controversies such as campus free speech. Assigned works will include Booker T. Washington, Industrial Education, W.E.B. Dubois, The Talented Tenth, Frederick Rudolph, Williams College 1793-1993: Three Eras, Three Cultures, Michael S. Roth, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, Martha Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity, William Deresiewicz, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, and Anthony T. Kronman, The Assault on American Excellence.
Format: tutorial; This course is a tutorial. Students will meet in pairs with the instructor one hour per week. The default assumption is that this course will meet on-line. If the weather permits we could sometimes meet outside. If there is a reasonably sized well ventilated classroom we could occasionally meet there.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
A 5- to 7-page paper every other week (6 in all), prepare and present a written critique of their partners' papers in alternate weeks
I will be seeking a balance of interests and backgrounds; preference given to students who have taken at least one philosophy course
A 5- to 7-page paper every other week (6 in all), prepare and present a written critique of their partners' papers in alternate weeks, and will receive from the instructor timely comments on their writing skills, with suggestions for improvement.