The National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education brings together a select group of rising stars in the U.S. academy from across the disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities at top-tier research universities. In a nationwide search, presidents, deans, provosts and senior faculty at universities including Princeton, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Berkeley, Michigan, NYU, Brown, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, have identified them as the next generation of academic leaders.
While our fellows have been trained and rewarded for developing outstanding programs of highly specialized research in their chosen fields, the National Forum provides them a unique space to do the opposite: to think through large and unwieldy questions that stand at the heart of innovation and rejuvenation in the liberal arts. Our fellows are energetic and even daring young scholars who are predisposed to question conventional wisdom and are by nature receptive to the kind of vibrant intellectual challenge that good teaching and responsive, responsible academic governance can be.
As Derek Bok has recently argued, our current institutions of higher learning do an inadequate job of educating their own faculties on how to educate. The Forum proposes that the most effective, efficient way to sustain long-term institutional innovation is precisely to focus on the individuals who will have the most leverage over those institutions in the coming decades. Our venture begins from the premise that educating students is not a service, but an engaging and stimulating enterprise that begins in the classroom, but also inevitably leads beyond it, into broader questions of university governance and public policy. The Forum will not be a didactic transfer of research on pedagogical practices or institutional leadership, but a problem-based seminar opening questions and inviting arguments. All of the Forum's activities will be guided by the idea that the work of the academy is tightly tied to the questions of good citizenship and social responsibility