Joint Statement on the Value of Liberal Education by AAC&U and AAUP
It is a curious time in when we must regularly re-articulate and defend the core principles of liberal education, which are both the bedrock of American higher education and the Republic itself.
In his introduction to the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote:
An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
Hamilton acknowledged that well-informed judgement was the very heart of effective governance and a functional democratic society, and this capacity is the aim of liberal education.
The Association of American Colleges & Universities, our principal national organization advancing liberal education, and the American Association of University Professors, the national organization dedicated to the preservation of academic freedom and best practices for the professoriate, issued a joint statement on the value of liberal education that clearly articulates the value and importance of the work that we do at Susquehanna and our sister institutions across the nation.