by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jenna Robinson of the Martin Center focuses on necessary changes within American higher education.
Universities are in dire need of reform. They are too expensive; the classwork is too easy; the curriculum too unfocused. Too many students drop out or don’t care. Indeed, many of today’s universities have strayed so far from their original purpose that creating a path for reform and renewal seems impossible.
But a new book by Margarita Mooney begins to explore avenues for reform in one area: refocusing universities on the liberal arts. Mooney is an associate professor in the Department of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and founder of the Scala Foundation. Scala calls itself “a movement of students and educators who believe that beauty and wisdom are integral to a full liberal arts education.”
The Love of Learning: Seven Dialogues on the Liberal Arts is a reflection of Scala’s mission “to renew American culture by restoring beauty and wisdom to the liberal arts.” It is a refreshing discussion on both the importance and practice of the liberal arts, especially at religious institutions. Through conversations with seven scholars from across the humanities, Mooney offers better ways of understanding and addressing the big questions and tensions that our universities face.
Mooney’s interlocutors include Robert P. George who directs the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, Elizabeth Corey, Honors Program Director at Baylor University, Roosevelt Montás, who was the Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum at Columbia College from 2008 to 2018, as well as four other distinguished scholars. The book began as webinar dialogues between Mooney and the contributors, all of whom are “examples of people who have pursued excellence through liberal arts education.”
By following in their footsteps, educators may begin to restore some of what has been lost.