President Roth Defends Liberal Education

On a recent visit to Memphis, where he spoke at Rhodes College, President Michael S. Roth was interviewed on WKNO by Jonathan Judaken about his book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. They began by discussing the difference between liberal and vocational education.

“A liberal education… is an education that is broad, contextual and integrative. What I mean by that is you not only learn the skill but you are coming to understand how that skill fits into context–into an economy, into a society, into politics. You are learning to situate yourself in the world, and not just to perform somebody else’s task,” Roth explained.

He defended the relevance of a liberal education for all:

“A liberal education is important in the development for the capacity for citizenship. It’s important for the development of creativity and critical thinking. These are not only elements that are relevant to people who go to elite private schools. They are relevant for anyone who is going to push back against oppression, who is going to critically evaluate their government, who is going to participate in their neighborhood.”