Liberal arts communities from Utrecht and Warsaw have made available new materials relevant for liberal arts in Europe.
LESC 2018 (see final report on their website) has now published the video recordings of all of their plenary sessions on liberal education. Those who could not have been there, or want to relive an experience, can now watch the opening keynote by Bert van der Brink, dean of University College Roosevelt, and the response by Iris van der Tuin, director of Liberal arts and Sciences at Utrecht University. After that follow TED-talks by Ria van der Lecq, founding director of the Liberal Arts and Sciences programme at Utrecht University, James Kennedy, dean of University College Utrecht that hosted the event, and Volker Balli, Academic Director of the Studium Individuale at Leuphana University, and the ensuing discussion. From the last two days, there is a recording of the open space keynote about the many shapes and origins of liberal education by Daniel Kontowski, ELAI co-founder, and the thought-provoking concluding keynote by Teun Dekker, Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as vice-dean of University College Maastricht. Finally, you can also enjoy the lively concluding general discussion about the future steps for the European liberal arts community. All in all, there are over six hours of high definition videos capturing contemporary proposals and debates about what liberal arts is and can be in the European realms.
A little further east, the Kolegium Artes Liberales at the University of Warsaw has recently launched ‘Artes Liberales Lectures’. The series includes lectures delivered at the Kolegium discussing the role of the liberal arts in our times and for our communities. In the first lecture, Donald Harward, founding director of the Bringing Theory to Practice Project in Washington DC and former president of Bates College in Maine, challenges us to think of civic and global engagement as both risky and necessary tasks of liberal arts institutions. Harward argues that for too many institutions civic engagement has become little more than a positioning strategy and a spectator sport, while the true liberal education turns our vulnerability into ‘our unique capacity of compassion’. In the second lecture, Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University, calls for re-establishing the connection between university and democracy that requires abandoning the innocent vision of liberal arts and taking the unreason seriously. Katznelson believes that liberal arts offers a knowledge-based, multi-method approach to reflecting on human condition. Universities have a unique responsibility for impacting the world by ‘altering the conditions of speech and understanding’, especially so in our turbulent times.