Dean Peck Announces New Weissman Initiative

WSAS InitiativeDean Jeffrey Peck announces the beginning of a new initiative, Public Scholarship and Civic Engagement: The Liberal Arts in the World, which he says “goes to the heart of our activities in the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences.” This follows up on the Global Studies Initiative the Dean launched soon after arriving in 2008.

Dean Peck notes that, especially in these economically trying times, the “practical utility” of the liberal arts have increasingly been called into question. While those who work in and study the liberal arts well understand the valuable role its disciplines play in research and teaching, “it behooves us to think about the ways that our work can indeed affect the world at large, particularly in this global environment,” he says.

The initiative will facilitate the Weissman community’s ongoing efforts to extend its scholarship to the general public with undiminished quality and integrity. “Sometimes we must find a different language to speak to non-academic audiences; other times, we must find new audiences to engage about what we do,” says the Dean.

Dean Peck intends for Public Scholarship and Civic Engagement to encourage the Weissman community “to think about how we can meet head-on some of the challenges to the liberal arts and how we can think together creatively to take advantage of our excellent liberal arts faculty and curricula at Weissman.” He says some of the challenging questions that confront us are: “How shall we conceptualize and act upon the liberal arts here at Baruch College, an institution traditionally thought of as a business school? How can we take advantage of our unique status at such a school where all students take over half of their coursework in the liberal arts? What new programs and initiatives might we develop? What is the role of the liberal arts in developing qualities in students (critical thinking and analytical skills, for example) that encourage them to be engaged and thinking citizens, especially in these political times?”

Arguing the World

WSAS InitiativeTo begin this initiative, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences sponsored an event on Thursday, October 14, 2010: “Arguing the World,” at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. Organized by Presidential Professor Carol Berkin of the History Department, “Arguing the World,” a film and discussion, focused on four major intellectual figures known as the New York Intellectuals: Irving Kristol, Nathan Glazer, Irving Howe, and Daniel Bell. The film is described as “the story of a lifelong political argument among brilliant and engaging individuals who came of age as radicals at [our own] …City College of New York during the Great Depression and then journeyed across the political spectrum.”  

The panel comprised the following: Professors David and Jordy Bell, the son and daughter of Daniel Bell; Eric Cohen, a friend of the Kristol family; and Russell Jacoby, a prominent intellectual historian (The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe, 1987, 2000). Robert Friedman, a Baruch supporter, alum, and friend of the History Department moderated. Dr. Berkin also made remarks.

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