Why Liberal Arts Colleges Are Failing and How to Revive Them

The loss of public trust in universities that has risen to front page news did not suddenly emerge in 2020. In 2018 the non-partisan Gallup organization found that, for the first time, less than half of Americans have “a lot of confidence” in higher education. Even more pointedly, Gallup reported that “No other institution has … Continue reading “Why Liberal Arts Colleges Are Failing and How to Revive Them”


10 Books We’d Like to Find Under the Christmas Tree in 2020

One of my favorite projects at the Martin Center is the cultivation of our higher education library. So far, we’ve collected nearly 700 books about higher education and educational philosophy. Even before COVID-19, books were a respite from the pressures of daily life, the 24/7 news cycle, and the acrimony of politics. Now, with gatherings … Continue reading “10 Books We’d Like to Find Under the Christmas Tree in 2020”


True Learning Starts With Real Mentorship

There’s a chasm between the purpose of a liberal arts education and how many colleges and universities actually operate. Throughout academia, excessive value is placed on efficiency, research publications, and prestige—things that are, at best, ancillary to a liberal education’s central purpose of growing in wisdom and pursuing truth. Consequently, instead of focusing on nurturing … Continue reading “True Learning Starts With Real Mentorship”


Whatever Happened to the Teaching of Western Civilization?

Whatever Happened to the Teaching of Western Civilization?

Stanley Kurtz ranks as one of this country’s most insightful critics of higher education. The National Association of Scholars chose wisely in commissioning him to write a report on what has happened to the teaching of Western civilization on the postmodern campus.  For those worried about the future of the republic, The Lost History of … Continue reading “Whatever Happened to the Teaching of Western Civilization?”


The Essential Ingredient for a ‘Deep Education’

About a year ago, Princeton philosopher Robert P. George came to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to speak about civil discourse and diversity of thought with the UNC system Board of Governors. He returned on February 8, but this time he came with Cornel West, a long-time friend and philosopher at Harvard University, as guest speakers … Continue reading “The Essential Ingredient for a ‘Deep Education’”


The Four Perspectives of Higher Education Policy Explained

Explaining higher education policy is never easy (even to people who are involved in it). Over the years, while training young writers for the Martin Center, I have come up with a model that has proven useful. One way to produce clarity among the confusion is to apply a model having four basic perspectives rather … Continue reading “The Four Perspectives of Higher Education Policy Explained”


A Remarkably Hard College Course Proves Remarkably Popular

We’re used to hearing that American college students don’t like reading and avoid tough courses where they have to. But a new course at the University of Oklahoma (OU) proves that many students are eager for a demanding course. Here’s the story. In the fall of 1941, as a visiting faculty member at the University … Continue reading “A Remarkably Hard College Course Proves Remarkably Popular”


Higher Education and the Threat of Fascism

In a recent essay published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley is haunted by a spectre—the spectre of American universities aiding the rise of fascism. (The essay, “Fascism and the University” is subscriber-only content, unfortunately.) He says that “patterns have emerged that suggest the resurgence of fascist politics globally” and … Continue reading “Higher Education and the Threat of Fascism”


Three Ways Declining English Departments Can Be Relevant Again

A major in English was once a serious endeavor masquerading as a frivolous one. Despite the occasional “do you want fries with that?” condescension from business or science students, the study of literature—immersion in its aesthetic, historical, and philosophical contexts—conserved for posterity a reservoir of truth and paid forward for humanity a legacy of beauty … Continue reading “Three Ways Declining English Departments Can Be Relevant Again”


Great Books Are Key for a Unified Education

The Great Books—the primary texts that include the greatest writings of Western Civilization—once formed the basis of all higher education. The highest levels of society were often closed to those who could not discuss the important works of the Classical period, Christianity, or the Enlightenment. Starting in the 19th century, their primacy diminished as the … Continue reading “Great Books Are Key for a Unified Education”