Posted on November 1, 2010 by Tia Lalani

During our centenary, a new lecture series will explore the questions that confront higher education today.

By Christopher Thrall

What is the value of the liberal arts? What role will technology serve? How do universities make a home for aboriginal peoples? During Augustana Campus’ centenary year, when so many of our celebrations focus on the last hundred years, a new lecture series will explore the questions that confront higher education today.

“Universities are under incredible pressures,” said Dean Roger Epp, who is arranging the lecture series. “Liberal-arts schools like Augustana may face an additional set of challenges in renewing what we do and demonstrating our relevance. We are inviting speakers from across North America to speak about what issues universities like ours are going to confront in the next century.”

The first speaker will be Les Purce, who will visit Augustana on Wednesday, Nov. 3; he will discuss public liberal arts education and ask whether it is a public good or simply a private benefit.

Purce has been president of the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington for the past 11 years. Since opening its doors in 1971, Evergreen has become a national leader in the development of interdisciplinary learning communities that combine and co-ordinate several academic subjects. More than 400 colleges and universities across the continent model parts of their curricula on Evergreen’s approach to interdisciplinary study in the arts and sciences.

“Evergreen is a very innovative liberal arts college,” said Epp. “It has a reputation for pushing the envelope, though Dr. Purce is not coming so we can simply import his ideas. He is a charismatic guy who represents an interesting school that does things differently.”

While other speakers and dates are being finalized, Epp expects to explore several other topics in the lecture series. Dr. Emma Larocque, Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba and a former student at Camrose Lutheran College, will speak on the place of aboriginal students and communities in the next university. Dr. Darin Barney, Canada Research Chair in Technology and Citizenship at McGill University, will address questions of technology in relation to education, democracy and the virtue of courage.

Watch augustana.ualberta.ca/100/ for updates to The Next University, a centenary lecture series.


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