What a College Should Be

The following is an except from Andrew Delbanco’s 2012 College: What is was, is, and should be (Princeton University Press).

At its core, a college should be a place where young people find help for navigating the territory between adolescence and adulthood.  It should provide guidance, but not coercion, for students trying to cross that treacherous terrain on their way toward self-knowledge.  It should help them develop certain qualities of mind and heart requisite for reflective citizenship.

Debanco attempts to reduce these qualities into a list. I think he does a good job. See for yourself:

  1. A skeptical discontent with the present, informed by a sense of the past.
  2. The ability to make connections among seemingly disparate phenomena.
  3. Appreciation of the natural world, enhanced by knowledge of science and the arts.
  4. A willingness to imagine experience from perspectives other than one’s own.
  5. A sense of ethical responsibility.

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