Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters

Yale Univ. May 2014. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9780300175516. $25. ED
Roth (president, history, Wesleyan Univ.) argues that liberal education is not only necessary for individual development but is essential for the growth of active citizens and for the vitality of a democratic government. He explores American intellectual history to present major thinkers who strongly supported a broad humanistic education. Thomas Jefferson shaped early American political institutions and founded the University of Virginia in 1819 with a rich curriculum to prepare thoughtful citizens to lead the new republic. Two 19th-century African American writers, Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) and David Walker (1796–1830), promoted higher education as an instrument for ending slavery and liberating slaves. Roth emphasizes other key American writers, including Benjamin Franklin, Jane Addams, and John Dewey, as advocates for a pragmatic education enhancing individual progression and societal advancement. While Roth explains recent attacks on universities that call for a return to the traditional canon or a focus on vocationalism, he rejects these movements and asserts that liberal education is still relevant and essential to a healthy national community.
VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in higher education. This title will also appeal to those who wish to explore U.S. intellectual history as a thoughtful examination of the educational vision of major American writers—a vision that remains essential to a vital contemporary society.
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