Jacob Howland, McFarlin professor of philosophy at the University of Tulsa, will speak on campus at 8 p.m. on February 4 in Lane 125 on “the crisis of liberal education in America” and 8 p.m. on February 5 in Dow A on “Divine Word and Human Chatter.”
The talks are sponsored by the Office of the President, the Van Andel School of Statesmanship, the Department of Philosophy and Religion, the Collegiate Scholars Program, and the Lyceum.
Howland’s first talk “On the Crisis of Liberal Education in America” will discuss the current education restructure happening at the University of Tulsa. According to The University of Tulsa’s website, they are currently undergoing a process of eliminating 15 departments and 40% of the academic programs it offers. The university is also eliminating its business and law schools to create a single “professional college” and create one general education curriculum called “university studies.”
“My talk will place the recent destruction of the University of Tulsa in the broader context of the ‘reengineering’ of American education according to the priorities of corporatist progressivism,” Howland said in an email.
Professor of History Paul Rahe worked with Howland for many years at the University of Tulsa and wanted to bring him to campus.
“He is at the center of a struggle to prevent the trustees and administration of the University of Tulsa from destroying the place as a liberal arts institution,” Rahe said in an email.
Rahe sees the liberal arts being threatened from both sides — those on the left striving to indoctrinate and those on the right striving to make colleges “job-training” centers.
“One reason for bringing Jacob here is that he has given a great deal of thought to this process of dissolution,” Rahe said. “He can talk both about the particulars of the Tulsa situation and about the draft of things nationally.”
Howland’s second lecture will focus on philosophical topics and be geared toward anyone interested in philosophy or the Christian religion.
“My talk is connected with the theme of liberal education which nourishes and strengthens the individual as such,” Howland said. “Kierkegaard relates the obliteration of individual character in the present age to the increasingly inhuman babble that today fills our ears and drowns out the Word of God.”
Howland has written several books on Plato and the Talmud, Kierkegaard, and related authors.
“Both the Talmud and Kierkegaard are significant,” Rahe said. “Neither has much of a place in our curriculum, so he can supplement what we do.”
The two lectures are for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty with interest in the future of the American university and the teachings of a prominent philosopher.
“My hope is that the attendees will emerge from the first lecture with a sense of what the world of education out there is going to be like,” Rahe said. “And from the second lecture with a deeper understanding of the relationship between reason and revelation within the Christian world.”