Session VI: Conversation - The Future of Undergraduate Education: Breadth or Depth?

Once upon a time, Cardinal Newman envisioned a university-educated citizen as prepared to “master of any subject with facility.” With the rise of the modern research infrastructure, its broadened scale, and diversity of functions, there has been a push to vocational and professional education—and corresponding resistance. The knowledge economy requires ever more complex and refined skills, many of which need to be developed at an earlier age, and pursued for more years of study. The notion that a broad-based curriculum and multi-disciplinary learning— the vaunted liberal arts tradition— should be the foundation of an undergraduate learning experience is under unprecedented pressure to give way to specialization and concentration. Should university leaders and stakeholders in societies embrace this new model? Is there a case to be made for a “liberal arts” for the 21st century? If so, what would this broad exploration of various disciplines look like? Or is it destined to be a luxury limited to those who can afford it? Moderator: Olivier Bouin, Director, Network of French Institutes for Advanced Study Cheryl de la Rey, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Pretoria, South Africa Don M. Randel ’62 *67, President Emeritus, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Chicago Pauline Yu, President, American Council of Learned Societies