Gerhard Casper on Humanities

Gerhard Casper was President of Stanford University from 1992-2000. Recently saw an article, where he shared among other things, some thoughts about Humanities:


"I have become very skeptical of justifying liberal arts in terms of their utility for employment, kind of instrumentalizing them."

"I think the real argument for the liberal arts is the education they provide. [Students] are very young; [they] will never have another opportunity to get this broad an education like the kind Stanford offers. And you never know what will happen in your life. You should have as much knowledge as you possibly can and then be able later in life to make the most of what you learned in your four years of college." (Note: this is a "timing" argument)

"There is one additional element that is to me very important, and I don’t think we at Stanford are doing particularly well in this area. With globalization has come the daily challenge to confront cultures that you have never even heard of. Not only are there vast amounts of migration and travel and mobility, but there are also great challenges in conducting foreign policy or business abroad. If I were influential, I would very much argue that what once we had in Civ, or what we tried to do in IHUM, be rethought and that we have somehow in the first year, for all students, a requirement that I would call cultural geography, in which students would be exposed to what is generally the material of humanities, but in many cultures. We cannot do everything, but we can be selective and do a fairly good job, I think, in broadening perspective." (Note: this is aligned with what I am trying to do in this site for World Canonical Texts; then he relates an anecdote about teaching Mencius to one of Mencius' descendent)

"But we also have to remember that there are whole areas of learning where the half-time [of knowledge] is by no means a year or two, but is still a thousand years. That is knowledge we also need to convey." (Note: I think he is referring again to Humanities - though I can't be sure.) 


And, Casper has an interesting and commendable thought that university should focus on teaching and research - too much distractions these days for professors (I guess especially those at Stanford!)


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    źródło (Tuesday, 17 January 2017 02:49)