The interactive forum – “College: What Am I Doing Here?” will focus on students getting the most out of their college education and the importance of a liberal arts foundation in higher education. Wednesday’s forum will take place in Staples Hall in the Music Building at 7 p.m.
“It will not just focus on the experience, but help students focus on what the experience gives them. What we are trying to do at the college level is not to create these automatons that regurgitate knowledge, but people who can take abstract ideas and apply them to different situations to solve problems,” said event facilitator Kenneth Sanney, associate professor of business law and regulations.
Delbanco is best known for his book “College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be” and was named America’s Best Social Critic by Time magazine in 2001.
“If we don’t educate our students on how to think and how to communicate, which is the core of a liberal arts education, then we are creating ill-prepared students and we are charging them a lot to do that,” Sanney said. “We shouldn’t be. We should be creating students who will be successful not just at work, but in life.”
Delbanco believes the traditional four-year college experience, an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas, is in danger of becoming a thing of the past.
The Teaching and Learning Collective, a grassroots faculty initiative that aims to improve students’ academic achievement, brought him to CMU for three events, including Wednesday’s SUSO forum.
“We are at a point where this is a top agenda item nationally, and CMU is bringing in one of the nation’s top thought leaders. I really hope the community here at CMU realizes the benefit of that and turns out for it. I think they will,” Sanney said. “We have worked on having it be something that will benefit the university across the board.”
SUSO Committee Chair Merlyn Mowrey, associate professor of philosophy and religion, hopes Delbanco will help students get the best experience CMU has to offer.
“I hope he is going to get students thinking about what they are doing here,” she said. “He’s so student-oriented. I think he will be very engaging, and I hope he will be energizing and inspiring to the students.”