Liberal Education

From the Editor

Each summer, we dedicate the Featured Topic section of Liberal Education to coverage of the annual meeting of the association. And each year, we struggle to select from a conference program that looks, from this vantage point, like an embarrassment of riches. Happily, over the past few years, technology has relieved some of the pressure on Liberal Education by creating new ways to preserve and share more material. In 2006, for the first time, presentations from the annual meeting were recorded and made available as a podcast; seventeen presentations from the 2010 meeting are now available in this format (see And this year, for the first time, several attendees served as guest bloggers, providing real-time commentary on the meeting for AAC&U's Liberal Education Nation blog ( In addition, the online conference program includes hyperlinks to PowerPoint presentations and session handouts provided by several of the speakers.

Here, our coverage of the 2010 annual meeting begins where the meeting itself ended, with Edward Ayers's clever and thought-provoking look at the enthusiasm within higher education for anything that can be termed an "experience"—as well as for the term itself. And Peter Stearns looks at the rise of new forms of global education and considers its relationship to liberal education. The third article in the Featured Topic section was adapted from a presentation given at a one-day conference sponsored by the Bringing Theory to Practice project and held in Washington, DC, on January 20—only coincidentally the first day of the AAC&U annual meeting. Yet, given the subject of the presentation—the ongoing reinvention of liberal education—and given that its author, William Sullivan, also participated in the annual meeting, it seemed fitting to include a version here nonetheless.

The 2011 annual meeting, titled "Global Positioning: Essential Learning, Student Success, and the Currency of U.S. Degrees," will be held in San Francisco from January 26 to 29. Additional information about next year's meeting is available online at

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