I don’t mean in a big metaphysical sense.    Maybe Charles or Eric and their “useless” religion and philosophy classes can answer that one.

I mean why does Bucknell exist and why does its liberal arts curriculum exist?

Let me draw your attention to two exhibits, oh jury of peers.

A) The mission of the university as it has defined it.  I underlined key phrases.

Unique national university where liberal arts and professional programs complement each other. Bucknell educates men and women for a lifetime of critical thinking and strong leadership characterized by continued intellectual exploration, creativity, and imagination. A Bucknell education enables students to interact daily with faculty who exemplify a passion for learning and a dedication to teaching and scholarship. Bucknell fosters a residential, co-curricular environment in which students develop intellectual maturity, personal conviction and strength of character, informed by a deep understanding of different cultures and diverse perspectives. Bucknell seeks to educate our students to serve the common good and to promote justice in ways sensitive to the moral and ethical dimensions of life.

B) The goals of the education at the heart of this mission.  You may have noticed that a certain professor LED his syllabus with these.

Business, Government, and Society is an ambitious class that is a required element in the SoM curriculum.  We will cover, discuss, and probe the intersections of business and organizational managing, ethics, and emerging societal trends and forces.  Specifically, my objectives for you include to:

1)   See business problems as complex problems of ethics, values, and social change.

2)   Deepen your self-awareness of your values and how they interface with organizations, leadership, and the current state of the world.

3)   Write more clearly, do better research, and develop a sense of the craft of writing (internalized appreciation of quality and joy).

4)   Improve information literacy, especially through using sources of information from each of the BGS sectors.

5)   Learn more about alternative models of production and value-creation

6)   Learn and recognize major ethical approaches including libertarianism, stakeholder theory, deontological ethics, consequentialist ethics, pragmatism, sustainability, and the “hacker” work ethic.

7)   Learn about the content various topics: the Great Recession and finance, collaborative technologies, sustainability, energy and the environment, justice and inequality, and social innovation and entrepreneurship.

8)   Develop multiple alternatives for any business situation.  That is, resist monorail or “default settings” thinking.  To do this means exercising the imagination, sociological and otherwise.

These objectives are linked to the goal of a Bucknell Education.  Each objective is linked to one of the goals below (in parentheses).

The goal of a Bucknell education is to transform students through rigorous and sustained academic study supported and enriched by co-curricular and residential experiences.

To that end, Bucknell University’s students will:

Learn, integrate, and apply knowledge and methodological approaches through in-depth study of an academic discipline (5,6,7).

Integrate and synthesize a range of knowledge, perspectives, and creative methods acquired through study and practice across multiple academic disciplines and diverse educational experiences (3,4)

Develop knowledge and skills for interpreting the commonalities and differences among human societies, including diverse cultural perspectives and traditions within the United States and internationally, to enable living and working effectively in a global context (1,7)

Develop knowledge and skills to identify and respond creatively and effectively to local and global challenges to humans and the natural world (1,8)

Understand the importance of and develop the capacities for self-assessment, ethical reasoning, and effective interaction with others so as to act responsibly and to promote justice in professional and communal life (2)

Develop critical thinking skills to evaluate arguments and address complex issues using techniques including quantitative and qualitative analysis and scientific reasoning (1, 8)

Develop skills in oral and written communication to articulate ideas and arguments clearly and effectively (3,4)

Develop information literacy and technological competency across disciplines (4)

Develop the desire and intellectual skills for life-long learning (1,2,8)


So, big questions now:

Who else determines what the mission should be?

Is career preparation, return on value, or usefulness part of it?  If not, should it be?

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About Jordi

I am an assistant professor in the Management School at Bucknell University. I specialize in organization theory, social networks, and studying the network society. I have three children, including twins. They love bouncing on the couch, legos, music, and my waffles. My wife teaches English at the same university. I am interested in most things, but these days, networks, social entrepreneurs, the environment, innovation, and virtual worlds. Finding Hidden Abodes and Shaking Iron Cages since 1972

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