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Preface is a first-year reading program that introduces students to the joy of academic inquiry. As such, it combines guided reading of a selected text with co-curricular events in which students discuss questions raised by the text with university, community and national experts. During this program, first-year students read the Preface text in English 101 and most University 101 courses and attend related events in both English 101 and 102.
While Preface is geared primarily toward first-year students, it offers a calendar of events that are relevant to a wide range of university courses as well as the community. Therefore the events are planned in close cooperation with various departments and offices of USC Upstate and most events are free and open to the public. This fall, first-year writing students will read Fareed Zakaria's In Defense of a Liberal Education.
CNN host and best-selling author Fareed Zakaria argues for a renewed commitment to the world’s most valuable educational tradition.
The liberal arts are under attack. The governors of Florida, Texas and North Carolina have all pledged that they will not spend taxpayer money subsidizing the liberal arts, and they seem to have an unlikely ally in President Obama. While at a General Electric plant in early 2014, Obama remarked, "I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." These messages are hitting home: majors like English and history, once very popular and highly respected, are in steep decline.
"I get it," writes Fareed Zakaria, recalling the atmosphere in India where he grew up, which was even more obsessed with getting a skills-based education. However, the CNN host and best-selling author explains why this widely held view is mistaken and shortsighted.
Zakaria eloquently expounds on the virtues of a liberal arts education—how to write clearly, how to express yourself convincingly and how to think analytically. He turns our leaders' vocational argument on its head. American routine manufacturing jobs continue to get automated or outsourced, and specific vocational knowledge is often outdated within a few years. Engineering is a great profession, but key value-added skills you will also need are creativity, lateral thinking, design, communication, storytelling, and, more than anything, the ability to continually learn and enjoy learning—precisely the gifts of a liberal education.
Zakaria argues that technology is transforming education, opening up access to the best courses and classes in a vast variety of subjects for millions around the world. We are at the dawn of the greatest expansion of the idea of a liberal education in human history.
The intent of this series of programs is to help USC Upstate first-year students make connections to each other and to the University, to practice skills that contribute to success in college, and to discuss how a deeper understanding of a shared reading can inform the way we make personal decisions and influence public policy today.
For more information about previous Preface Program readings and events, see the
Preface Program Archive.
Dr. Peter CasterDepartment Chair
Dr. Monika ShehiPreface Coordinator
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