Ursinus Cited in New Book on Higher Education

Ursinus College is cited in a new book by cultural critic and Columbia University professor Andrew Delbanco: College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be. Delbanco includes the Ursinus first-year required course that asks students to consider moral questions of human existence. (See related story about Delbanco on WHYY Radio.)

Andrew Delbanco

Andrew Delbanco spoke at Ursinus during Commencement in May, 2010.

“To cite an impressive example,” he writes, “Ursinus College (fosters collaborative teaching) with its Common Intellectual Experience seminars, even though it has no graduate students to serve as teaching assistants.”

The book, published by Princeton University Press, offers a defense of the traditional four-year college experience as an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers. This model is in danger of becoming a thing of the past, according to Delbanco, the Julian Clarence Levi Professor Chair in the Humanities and Director of American Studies at Columbia University.

Reviewed in the New York Times by Wesleyan University President Michael Roth, the book reminds us that “in this country, education was never supposed to be only about imparting information. It has long included character development,” according to the June 8 review.

Delbanco is the author of Melville: His World and Work (2005), winner of the Lionel Trilling Award;  The Death of Satan (1995); Required Reading: Why Our American Classics Matter Now (1997; and The Real American Dream (1999). The Puritan Ordeal (1989) also won the Lionel Trilling Award. Among his edited books are Writing New England (2001) and The Portable Abraham Lincoln (1992).

Delbanco is no stranger to Ursinus. He was the college’s 2010 commencement speaker.  In the Sept. 30, 2007 issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, he wrote, “Some signs suggest that higher education is waking up to its higher obligations. There is more and more interest in teaching great books that provoke students to think about justice and responsibility and how to live a meaningful life . . . respected smaller institutions like Ursinus College in Pennsylvania have built their own core curriculums around major works of philosophy and literature.”

He delivered a lecture on Lincoln’s birthday in 2009 in the Lenfest Theater, “Lincoln’s Reflective Statesmanship,” which was sponsored by The Jack Miller Center for Teaching, and he has served on the board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, which is chaired by Ursinus President Bobby Fong.

The book also mentions Spencer Foreman M.D., Class of 1957, and past Chair of the Board of Trustees, and a recollection of Ursinus; and Professor and author Carlin Romano on the learning styles of some undergraduates.

One thought on “Ursinus Cited in New Book on Higher Education

  1. It makes me feel proud that my former college has created an approach to learning within the liberal arts that seems to be truely engaging the whole student. Profound and timeless ideas that relate to values formation are well worth the intellectual effort and should not be rendered irrelevant by modern technocratic impulses.
    It’s gratifying to be noticed and appreciated in this way.