Liberal Education

From the Editor

American higher education shows vital signs. While we measure, weigh, survey, assess, and otherwise take the pulse of the enterprise, signals of education's liveliness--independent of such study and counting--come from many quarters. At the Association, we work with campuses that illustrate that message in a myriad of activities around such topics as general education, science education for civic engagement, the preparation of future faculty, and globalization.

Likewise, the message comes to my desk in the language and preoccupations of campus communities, written by campus leaders as they strive to offer their students education of high quality. In each issue of Liberal Education, authors find a place for their articles where they can express their interests, ideas, and innovations in collegial exchange. These voices from the field reflect one strong aspect of academic vitality.

The present issue shows a range of higher education's capacities: preparing an educated citizenry, dedication to the power of intellectual life, and social action grounded in learning, among other things. Moreover, in each issue over the course of one year, the articles illustrate the vital signs that are, at the same time, hope for the future.

Of particular note here are both ideas and actions related to the disasters of September. We see campus ethos concentrated and made visible in the way academic communities, in an immediate response, fulfill their multiple roles--ordinarily routines enacted in the predictable cycle of a semester or academic year-under pressure of events. We hear their voices recount activities and gatherings. And we discern the educational goals driving such campus undertakings. Despite the censoriousness of some critics of contemporary higher education, there is much to ground us in confidence as we move into 2002.

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