A conservative makes a case for liberal arts education

Liberal education is education for liberty, or freedom. As a result, one might think that Ursinus College political scientist Jonathan Marks’s book Let’s Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education would not be necessary. Conservatives, with their commitment to individual freedom and liberty, should be plentiful on liberal arts college campuses. But this is not the case. Conservatives are often hard to find at our best liberal arts colleges. In fact, many liberal arts colleges are downright hostile to conservative beliefs.

Over at Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik interviews Marks about his new book:

Q: What is the best way for conservatives to be heard in campus discussions?

A: That’s bound to vary from campus to campus. I am a voracious reader of campus horror stories, so when I wrote, in 2016, a review for The Wall Street Journal that criticized the spirit of activist campaigns then taking place at many colleges, I feared a call from the higher-ups. In fact, I did get a call from someone in the administration — inviting me to present on the review at a student affairs discussion group. That experience suggested to me that I had, because of what I’d read about other colleges, underestimated the professionalism and openness of my colleagues. Perhaps the best way of being heard is to appeal to standards like professionalism, academic freedom, rigor and inquiry, which still have some purchase, if not as much as one could wish, across fields and political sects. It helps, too, if one is able to form otherwise good working relationships with one’s colleagues.

In saying that, I don’t mean to deny or minimize incidents in which conservatives and dissenting liberals have been subjected to disgraceful treatment. Nor do I propose that we are likely to win many arguments. But I agree with David French that too many conservatives, particularly tenured ones, are more cowed than they should be by widely covered public shamings. His article is entitled “Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness.”

Read the entire interview here.