Thursday, November 03, 2005

What is the Purpose of a College?

Just returned from a divisional meeting, where we were asked to reflect on what the priorities of the college should be for the next 5-10 years. I went with one intention: to fight for real resources for Service Learning courses. I got sold early this semester on the idea of reorienting the college back to the purpose of preparing students to solve real problems in the world.

I am tired of departments trying to teach arcane knowledge, internal jargon, and erudition for the sake of erudition.

If we are so knowledgeable about our fields, e.g. how to solve poverty, how to protect watersheds, how to build a strong non-profit . . . then why don't we put our knowledge to the test and actually give to our communities. Why not write white papers that give real solutions to the health care crisis in our communities, or hell, even traffic? If we want our students to be good writers, how about encouraging them to use their talents to contribute stories to our local papers?

I just think it's time that we connnect our expertise and knowledge to something real. We can't just say that we want to teach our students the importance of civic engagement, but never expect them or our institution to engage our civic institutions.