September 28, 2007

The question of meaning is sadly neglected in this postmodern era

Higher Education and the Meaning of Life
I knew one professor who regularly taught a course under the title, “The Meaning of Life.” It was an elective course, counted toward the general education requirement. Most of the course content consisted of guest presentations from the community that explained how they constructed meaning out of the things they did in their personal and professional lives. As an administrator I have encouraged such courses to be offered by professors in the humanities and social sciences. Such courses can create excitement among students, faculty and the community, and even serve as a focal point to connect the seemingly unconnected pieces of knowledge students acquire in college. Careful design can satisfy the requirements of measuring learning outcomes in order to satisfy outside agencies.
The problem, perhaps, is that faculty themsleves need to be convinced that education’s primary goal is search for meaning. Our institutional structures and curricular arrangements are not conducive to address the question of meaning. The question of meaning is sadly neglected in this postmodern era. We administrators share some responsibility for the state of affairs as it exists. Perhaps, we have removed ourselves too far from academic pursuits, as we strive to compete with our peers in prestige, size of the endowment, and research dollars. The corporate model of administering universities does not serve us well. — Matthew Sep 27, 04:30 PM #

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