How can higher education today create a community of critical thinkers and searchers for truth that transcends the boundaries of class, gender, and nation? Martha C. Nussbaum, philosopher and classicist, argues that contemporary curricular reform is already producing such “citizens of the world” in its advocacy of diverse forms of cross-cultural studies. Her vigorous defense of “the new education” is rooted in Seneca’s ideal of the citizen who scrutinizes tradition critically and who respects the ability to reason wherever it is found—in rich or poor, native or foreigner, female or male. Drawing on Socrates and the Stoics, Nussbaum establishes three core values of liberal education: critical self-examination, the ideal of the world citizen, and the development of the narrative imagination. Then, taking us into classrooms and campuses across the nation, including prominent research universities, small independent colleges, and religious institutions, she shows how these values are (and in some instances are not) being embodied in particular courses. She defends such burgeoning subject areas as gender, minority, and gay studies against charges of moral relativism and low standards, and underscores their dynamic and fundamental contribution to critical reasoning and world citizenship. For Nussbaum, liberal education is alive and well on American campuses in the late twentieth century. It is not only viable, promising, and constructive, but it is essential to a democratic society. Taking up the challenge of conservative critics of academe, she argues persuasively that sustained reform in the aim and content of liberal education is the most vital and invigorating force in higher education today.
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INTRODUCTION The Old Education and the ThinkAcademy
CHAPTER ONE Socratic SelfExamination
CHAPTER TWO Citizens of the World
CHAPTER THREE The Narrative Imagination
CHAPTER FOUR The Study of NonWestern Cultures
CHAPTER FIVE AfricanAmerican Studies
CHAPTER SIX Womens Studies
CHAPTER SEVEN The Study of Human Sexuality
CHAPTER EIGHT Socrates in the Religious University
CONCLUSION The New Liberal Education
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academic African African-American studies Amartya Sen American ancient Greek anger argue argument Aristophanes Aristotle basic campus Catholic Chinese claim classics classroom complex conception course critical cross-cultural curricular curriculum Dame debate democracy democratic discussion diversity ethical example experience faculty female feminist focus focused freedom frequently gender goal Harvard higher education homosexuality human human sexuality idea identity identity politics imagination important Indian inquiry institutions intellectual interdisciplinary issues justice Kenneth Dover knowledge language lesbian literary literature lives male moral Mormon nation non-Western cultures norms one's person philosophy Plato political problems questions racial reason religion religious requires respect role Roman scholars scholarship sexual social society Socrates Stoics teaching thinkers thought topic tradition truth undergraduate understanding values W. E. B. Du Bois Western women women's studies world citizen world citizenship young