Liberal Education

From the Editor

In 1915, the year the Association of American Colleges was founded, The Bulletin was established as a journal of record; for many years afterward, this predecessor of Liberal Education carried the full proceedings of the annual meetings of the association. Indeed, through the 1970s, long after the journal had been expanded to include articles submitted by members and its name had been changed, one entire issue was reserved each year for coverage of the annual meeting.

Then, at the beginning of the 1980s, the customary practice of publishing proceedings was discontinued—although only temporarily, as it turned out. In 1986, when the current practicem of publishing a small selection was instituted, the historical relationship between Liberal Education and the annual meeting was restored. And every year since then, the editor of Liberal Education has had to face the unhappy task of selecting for publication a mere handful from among a superabundance of presentations deserving of a wider audience.

As the size of the meeting continues to grow—the 2006annual meeting was the largest ever held—the inverse relationship between the number of presentations made and the number published may be inevitable. Yet, through the adoption of a new technology, it may finally be possible to begin to reverse the trend.

Now, for the first time, the handful of presentations published in the annual meeting issue of Liberal Education is supplemented by a dozen annual meeting podcasts. Podcasting makes an audio file—in this case recorded presentations— available online. Once downloaded, a podcast can be listened to anytime using a computer or a portable media player.

Even if it were not impossible for the annual meeting issue of Liberal Education to carry the full proceedings, missing still would be the atmosphere of the meeting—the interaction during the intervals, the receptions, and all of the unofficial aspects that help make any meeting enjoyable and rewarding. Not even the most extravagant technological developments imaginable could ever enable us to recreate the actual experience of the annual meeting. And that is as it should be.

In all, this is a milestone year for the AAC&U annual meeting: it is now possible to both read and listen to presentations—and, I should add, to view color photographs of the meeting. While it is true that Liberal Education cannot reproduce the annual meeting, it can represent it. And that, I hope you will agree, is something this issue does very well.

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