Jacob Bruggeman writes for the Martin Center about the liberating role of education.
A liberal education, however, is not just essential for the self-reflection and formation captured in Westover’s story. It is a central component of responsible citizenship.
Just as education enables us to analyze and explain the encounters and interactions that constitute our personal histories, education also empowers us to become engaged citizens. Indeed, engagement with one’s community—regardless of whether that engagement is of a custodial, conservative nature or more critical in approach—is facilitated by an awareness of its history.
Contemporary debates about higher education often fail to convey that a college education is liberating, and not only because of the independence it offers young students. Disciplines such as art history, French literature, and philosophy can each equip their students with the emancipatory tools of self-reflection, thereby helping students situate their own histories and aspirations within the wider world. No wonder, then, that those disciplines can also be the training grounds for engaged citizens. Despite university cuts and enrollment figures to the contrary, a liberal education remains a reliable road for personal and political development.