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Every week you will have two to three readings to complete. These readings will

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Every week you will have two to three readings to complete. These readings will provide the inspiration for your weekly discussion post. Your post does not need to encompass all of the week’s readings. In fact, it shouldn’t. I’d like you to narrow your focus a bit and choose one specific aspect of one of the readings to write about. Your post does not need to be too extensive, just a paragraph or two. But there are some basic guidelines I’d like you to follow:
1) Please make it clear to us in the opening sentence of your post which one of the week’s readings you have chosen to write about.
2) Please do not summarize the reading in your post. Assume that we’ve all already done the reading, so there would be no need to summarize.
3) Instead of summary, please provide other critical thinking skills such as analysis, evaluation, or reflection. Try to analyze the author’s arguments, try to evaluate their strengths and/or weaknesses, and maybe even try to reflect on how their arguments relate to you, either academically or personally.
4) Try to write something substantial and specific. Avoid vague generalities. Think of these posts the way you would think of raising your hand in a classroom and saying something sharp and insightful about the reading. And since a classmate or two may eventually respond, think of your post as the start of an engaging conversation among peers. Try to start a conversation, as opposed to ending one.
Every week I will provide an extensive list of discussion prompts to help you brainstorm. You are not required to address any of the prompts, and you are certainly welcome to post about something beyond their scope. I provide these prompts merely as suggestions. If you do wish to address any of the prompts, remember that you only have to address one. You’re free to choose!
After you complete your post, you will have two days to respond to a classmate’s post. Like your initial post, your response should only be a paragraph or two. As a reminder, I’d like all discussions to remain civil and professional. Make sure your language demonstrates respect for diverse community members. Listen to your classmates and think about how you can address what they’re saying and add your own voice.
You may respond to a classmate’s post more than once, but only your first response to a classmate’s post will count towards your grade.
As for my role in the discussion, I will be more of a moderator than an active participant (although I may chime in with a post of my own periodically). But rest assured, I will be reading/grading all of your posts. If you follow the guidelines and meet your deadlines, you’ll put yourself in good position to earn the full 4 points (2 points for your initial post, 2 points for your response to a classmate’s post).
Please read the following in preparation for Week #2:
– ELAGA Ch. 1 “The Yale Report of 1828: Liberal Education and Collegiate Life”
– ELAGA Ch. 2 “The Declension Narrative, the Liberal Arts College, and the University” by Bruce A. Kimball
– IDLE Ch. 2 “A Brief History of Liberal Education”
And remember, the following list of discussion prompts is designed to help you brainstorm. You are not required to address any of these prompts in your post, and you are certainly welcome to post about something beyond their scope. I provide these prompts merely as suggestions. If you do wish to address any of the prompts, remember that you only have to address one. You’re free to choose!
Discussion Prompts
– ELAGA Ch. 1 “The Yale Report of 1828: Liberal Education and Collegiate Life”
When universities embrace specialization, for better or worse, what does that look like? How does the Report argue against specialization and mono-disciplinism? How effective are these arguments?
What effects did the Industrial Revolution (c. 1760 – c. 1840) have on attitudes toward the liberal arts? Similarly, what effects did the Great Recession (2007-2010) have on attitudes toward the liberal arts? Which aspects of the Yale Report still resonate today?
What is meant by “the discipline and the furniture of the mind”? How do these metaphors work? According to the Report, which is more important?
From page 4, how can a university offer balance among the following academic branches; math, science, literature, philosophy, rhetoric, composition, and discussion? Do you think Penn State does a good job of providing this balance to its students? If not, what could Penn State do better?
What is meant by “parental superintendence”? What does the Latin phrase in loco parentis mean? Have modern universities followed through on the promise of in loco parentis? If so, how? If not, why not?
– ELAGA Ch. 2 “The Declension Narrative, the Liberal Arts College, and the University” by Bruce A. Kimball
Kimball provides several historical examples of how experts have been predicting the inexorable decline of Liberal Arts Colleges for the past 125 years. What kept compelling these experts to worry so much? Why did these experts keep getting it wrong?
Many of these experts predicted “a kind of institutional Darwinism” that would accelerate this supposed decline. What did they mean by this? How does Kimball refute this?
What does Kimball mean when he claims that “a misleading reliance on proportional arguments” helped fuel this declension narrative? What do you make of the numbers on page 20?
Kimball does concede that Liberal Arts Colleges may be declining in recent decades. But what is wrong with correlating a decline in the number of Liberal Arts Colleges with a decline in the actual study of the liberal arts?
What do you make of Kimball’s concession about large research universities on page 25? You all attend a large research university. Do you think this is a fair critique?
According to Kimball, what role can Honors Programs play at large research universities? Do you agree with Kimball’s assessments?
What challenges do Honors Programs face at large research universities?
Kimball seems convinced that the presence of Honors Programs at large research universities is fundamentally a good thing. However, counter-arguments can certainly be made. Could you make one?
– IDLE Ch. 2 “A Brief History of Liberal Education”
What is arete? How did it define education in Sparta? What kind of education did Athens offer instead? Can we still see these differences in educational policy today?
What was the disagreement between Plato and Isocrates? How does this disagreement still play out today?
We’re already familiar with the Yale Report of 1828, as well as the work of Charles Eliot. According to Zakaria, how do they complement one another?
When Zakaria started teaching history to American college students, what did he notice? How does this relate to his arguments about college curricula? Do you agree?
Do you share Zakaria’s concerns about technology and entertainment on pages 61-62?
Do you share Zakaria’s concerns about the importance of research at American universities on page 63?
Do you share Zakaria’s concerns about grade inflation on page 64?
“Science was relegated to the scientists – a huge loss to society as a whole” (65). What does Zakaria mean by this? Why must non-scientists understand science?

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