Lately professors all over the country and here at Middlebury have been trying to answer the question, “Why liberal arts?” Although the answer is complex, it’s also quite simple. A good liberal arts education produces critically engaged citizens. In other words, people who can get information, analyze it and yes, think about it. As civically engaged citizens, students of the liberal arts are then very often moved to action.
This is exactly what happened last week when a group of Middlebury students decided to push the College to think about how we make our money. The students did this by sending out a fake press release stating that in conjunction with the Dalai Lama’s visit, Middlebury would be divesting itself from all companies that make a profit from war.
The press release was not a joke, but a protest. It pointed out the contradiction of saying we support peaceful solutions and simultaneously taking money from weapons’ manufacturers. It also points out the contradiction between being “carbon neutral” and getting dividends from Big Oil.
This action occurred not because Middlebury is more hypocritical than other institutions. It’s not. But because Middlebury is incredibly good at producing critically engaged citizens.
We the undersigned would like to publicly share our support with the students for pushing all of us to put our money where our mouths and our values are. We also want to applaud them for highlighting the power of a liberal arts education in producing critically engaged citizens.
Submitted by ROBERT COHEN, Professor of English and American Literatures; LAURIE ESSIG, Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies; PETER HAMLIN, Christian A. Johnson Professor of Music; PETER MATTHEWS, James B. Jermain Professor of Political Economy; SUJATA MOORTI, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies; KEVIN MOSS, Jean Thompson Fulton Professor of Modern Language and Literature; MARGARET NELSON, A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Sociology; MIKE OLINICK, Professor of Mathematics; LINUS OWENS, Associate Professor of Sociology; ELLEN OXFELD, Gordon Schuster Professor of Anthropology; JAY PARINI, D.E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing; DAVID STOLL, Professor of Anthropology; YUMNA SIDDIQI, Associate Professor of English and American Literatures; STEVE SNYDER, Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies; HECTOR VILA, Assistant Professor of Writing; GREG VITERCIK, Professor of Music.