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Why a Liberal Arts Education Today? Michael Moynihan on Realism, Reductionism, and the Need for a New Synthesis in Liberal Education

This episode features Mr. Michael Moynihan’s lecture at last year’s Teaching Vocation Conference. Our Upper School Head shares why a liberal arts education is needed more today than in times past. And the reasons are not simply that classics majors can code too. To the contrary, an authentic liberal education gives us not only truth, but also a ground upon which to stand. Many of our current social crises are rooted precisely in such a poverty: we mistrust much of our ability to know, and consequently we don’t know much of what gives life purpose and meaning.

Michael goes on to share four characteristics of a good liberal arts education. According to our Upper School Head, such an education:

  1. Teaches the right use of reason (grounding empirical sciences in realism at the bottom, and opening them to philosophy and transcendence at the top. In this vein, Michael challenges the current trends that simply limit the liberal arts to the humanities);
  2. Conveys meaning through a narrative approach, and in particular, meanings that offer a foundation resistant to materialism;
  3. Connects us to our tradition in such a way that facilitates authentic freedom; and
  4. Is firmly rooted in a realism that allows students to engage the real in a meaningful way.

Mr. Moynihan’s most recent article, A More Scientific Approach to Science Education, is available HERE.

Also on the Forum:

About the Guest

Michael Moynihan

Head of Upper School, The Heights School

A native of Rochester, NY, Michael Moynihan graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame Honors Program in 1992. After teaching for one year and earning a master’s degree in theology from The Catholic University of America,

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