The rhythm of the academic year returns us again to the beginning.
State College is charged with energy as parents drop off their children, some for the first time, and students turn and return to a course of study that will transform their lives.
This year, as in past years, I find myself thinking about how to address over 700 incoming freshman in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State. I hope to encourage them to take an active role in their own education.
They arrive all potential and hope; their promise is infectious and welcome.
So, tomorrow I will tell them, and in telling them, remind myself:
The liberal arts is an endeavor, an activity that teaches you to live intentionally and to craft a fulfilling life.
It involves the freedom to explore, and the responsibility to live differently based on what you discover.
It enables you to understand narrative and history, human behavior and politics, trauma and joy. It opens new and diverse horizons of experience through the study of languages, literatures, and culture.
It asks you to consider your future self, requires you to think about the kind of person you want to become and the contribution you want make to enrich the world we share.
And it teaches you to listen to the voices of others, to see perspectives different from your own, and to imagine new, more just modes of human interaction.
So here again at the beginning of another school year, let’s begin again with the liberal arts, mindful of the possibilities it opens for those dedicated to its enduring pursuit.
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We did a quick welcome video for Instagram: