Higher education is committed to the pursuit of truth regardless of where it might lead. To this end, The Education for a New Humanity Colloquium is designed to examine complex issues from multiple perspectives. The variety of colloquium events – ranging from “dueling documentaries” to a faculty lecture series, from student art and theater performances to a keynote address – allow participants to learn about the topic at hand in diverse settings and from various perspectives.
The theme for 2013-14, “The Price and Promise of Progress,” is meant to evoke discussion about the duality of humankind’s advancement. Gains made in the realms of culture and civilization, science and technology, art and education have transformed our existence, yet the toll our evolution has taken on our planet, on other species, and on ourselves has been great. How are we to weigh the benefits of progress against its cost? Can progress be accomplished without the side effects of destruction and abuse? How can educators encourage progress in our students as individuals while cultivating in them a sense of civic responsibility? The year-long timeline for the colloquium events invites deep thinking, respectful debate, and the gradual acquisition of knowledge about these and other related questions.
“Progress, then, as I see it, is to be measured by the accuracy of man's knowledge of nature's forces. If you examine this sentence carefully you will observe that I conceive progress as a sort of process of disillusion. Man gets ahead, in other words, by discarding the theory of to-day for the fact of to-morrow. Moses believed that the earth was flat, Caesar believed that his family doctor could cure pneumonia, and Columbus believed that devils entered into harmless old women and turned them into witches... You and I, knowing that all three of these distinguished men were wrong in their beliefs, are their superiors to that extent.” — H.L. Mencken, 1910