The “Aspen Ideas to Go” podcast is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute — including Aspen Words, the Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn Book Series, and various events around the country. For a curated listening experience subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen to each episode on the Aspen Ideas website.
This episode features William Deresiewicz, author of “Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life” and New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks.
At a time when traditional notions of college are under attack — in the shift to online instruction, in the emphasis on STEM fields and the denigration of the liberal arts, in the continued privatization of public higher education — it is urgent that we ask what college is supposed to be about in the first place. What happens when education is understood in purely vocational terms? What happens to schools, to teachers, to society — to students themselves? Why are students learning so little in college? Why are courses so much less important to them than extracurriculars? Why do so many young people today have trouble finding a sense of purpose? What are we doing to our children, and why are we doing it?
Tricia Johnson is editorial director of public programs at the Aspen Institute.
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