How does traditional American culture and Western civilization fare on your campus? What are some of the obstacles or difficulties a traditionalist, conservative, or libertarian might find on your campus? What can you tell us about the aesthetics of everyday life on your campus, from dating and sex, to dress and tastes, to behavior and mores? NAS asked 8 undergraduate college students these questions for a student symposium in the forthcoming "Student Culture " issue of Academic Questions (vol. 23, no. 2). We left it up to each respondent to choose which question to answer and how to answer it. The students' essays are the following: Beneath the Rungs: Locating the Liberal Arts at Harvard by Brian Bolduc From Raging to Engaging at Vanderbilt by Mary Frances Boyle Catholic or Bust? The Spirit of Inclusion at Notre Dame by Mary K. Daly Generation A at Fordham by Amanda Fiscina Debate Denied: Conservatives Stifled at Stanford by Gregory Hirshman Intolerant Tolerance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by Nash Keune Conservatives and Libertarians Face Challenges at the University of Michigan by Adam Pascarella Pursuing Truth and Virtue: The Great Tradition at Hillsdale College by Julie Robison
A project I have been imaging for a long time is now actually a reality. The Center for the Study of American Ideals and Culture has received its first funding, from the new Apgar Foundation. With this first seed money, we can now get this enterprise off the ground. I must admit I am quite proud, as they said that of the forty or so applications they requested, ours was the best. Here is the mission statement: The Center for the Study of American Ideals and Culture at the University of Arizona will provide the leaders of the future with an ennobling vision, a sense of a larger purpose and a higher calling, through an understanding of the theoretical foundations of American institutions and culture. With the management and direction of a new undergraduate major, the development of curricular and pedagogical innovation, research, performance, and public outreach, the Center will restore balance in the dialogue over the value of the heritage of Western civilization, the development of the American polity, and the expression of the American soul through the arts. Founded and directed by composer Daniel Asia, the new program will combat the rising ignorance of the American intellectual experience, especially of the philosophical principles of the founding of America, science and religion and its interaction with social policy, and of high culture, especially the rich legacy of high art and music." Comments, as well as million dollar gifts, are appreciated.
Around 10 B.C.E., the Roman poet Horace asserted that poetry’s purpose is “to delight and instruct.” More recently, in the Wall Street Journal, James Collins declared that in her novels, Jane Austen delights and instructs in how to live a moral life. He asks, "What, then, are the values that Austen would teach us? Value-laden words and phrases appear again and again in her work, often in clusters: self- knowledge, generosity, humility; elegance, propriety, cheerful orderliness; good understanding, correct opinion, knowledge of the world, a warm heart, steady, observant, moderate, candid, sensibility to what is amiable and lovely." Austen’s words boggle the modern mind as quaintly alien and vaguely religious. They are signifiers of archaic virtues foreign to our national conversation. Today, there is only one master virtue that trumps all others: tolerance. However, real moral instruction is predicated on narrative, the arrangement of events in Time such that choices and actions have perceptible consequences. Unfortunately, our wired and wireless world tirelessly militates against narrative. On electronic networks, as Sven Birkerts put it, everything is “laterally associative rather than vertically cumulative” and what comes before is unrelated to what comes after. The hyperlink replaces the transition word (linking may be a major factor in the decline of student ability in logic, grammar, and narrative understanding). Students don’t even perceive cause and effect relationships because they have returned to an Eden-of-the-screens, outside of Time, dwelling in what Lewis Lapham called “the enchanted garden of the eternal now.”