The goal to position the College as the place to discuss effective and efficient liberal arts education appears more attainable now than ever.
The College and the Center of Inquiry are one in striving to educate young people to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.
Read more about the Center: www.liberalarts.wabash.edu
Moving Ahead with
Many folks have been asking, "What is happening with the Center
of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts?" I typically respond by saying the
site is being prepared, contracts have been issued, and construction is
underway. Many questioners then tell me what they really want to know
about is the program of the Center of Inquiry. Funny how the same language
carries at least two different meanings.
From off campus, the most visible part of the program is liberalartsonline,
an occasional newsletter on timely topics relevant to the liberal arts.
You can join more than 1,000 subscribers by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent articles on the role of technology in a liberal arts education
have stirred great conversation from faculty, staff, and alumni of liberal
arts colleges nationwide.
On campus, you might see a small committee meeting regularly in Center
Hall to guide the emerging Center. Or you could meet Rachel Kendall, assistant
director of New Media who will provide the electronic infrastructure for
the Center of Inquiry and liberalartsonline, and Trevor Fanning '00 who
serves as an administrative assistant. And had you been on campus this
summer you could have seen faculty and students working on the first two
One Inquiry began systematically to try to develop a definition of an
effective liberal arts education that would provide a common language
for all future Inquiries. The other Inquiry worked toward isolating those
out-of-class practices that contribute most efficiently and effectively
to that education. You can learn more about both of these efforts by checking
the website: www.liberalarts.wabash.edu.
What you could not see, however, is almost as important as what you can
see. The Center began by telling educators, civic leaders, businessmen,
and others about its funding and mission. We wanted to let people know
about our plans, both to be sure that our goal of pulling together disparate
efforts across the land did not miss anybody, and to begin establishing
Wabash as the place to find out more about effective liberal arts education
in this country. Eight months later, people are coming to us. They have
begun asking questions about the liberal arts, about effective teaching
practices, how they might become scholars in residence at the Center,
and how we might help them in these various endeavors.
I have recently been invited, for example, to join the editorial board
of Liberal Education, the publication of the Association of American Colleges
and Universities, and to join the board advising the Rand Corporation/Council
for Aid to Education project, Value-Added Quality Education. This initiative
will attempt to measure the outcomes of a college education. Charles Blaich,
a faculty member in our psychology department working as a research fellow
for the Center of Inquiry, recently received an invitation to attend the
national meeting of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. As a
result, that group will hold its next meeting on the Wabash campus to
learn more about the Center of Inquiry and its activities.
We expect to continue both reaching out and being called upon. The goal
to position the College as the place to discuss effective and efficient
liberal arts education appears more attainable now than ever. In the not-too-distant
future, much more will be visiblethe building itself and the actual
results of these inquiries. Please feel free to learn more about them
by writing me or by checking
Finally, we should note again that the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts is not an add-on, a second thought, or a pet project of anyone at the College. Rather, it is an integral part of the strategic plan developed almost two years ago. That plan calls for redefining effective liberal arts education and, in so doing, improving the College and raising its visibility. The College and the Center of Inquiry are one in striving to educate young people to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.