Author and educator Mark Roche to make the case for the Liberal Arts

Publication Date

Mark Roche, author of the award-winning Why Choose the Liberal Arts, will kick off a new speaker series at Union Monday, Oct. 1, at 5:30 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.

His talk, "Liberal Arts: What are they good for?" is free and open to the public.

Roche, formerly dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, is a professor of Germanic language and literature and of philosophy at the university. He is the first guest in the Common Curriculum Speaker Series, which invites individuals to campus twice a year to engage the campus community in the meaning of the liberal arts.

Speakers will spend the day on campus, visiting classrooms, particularly those in the Common Curriculum such as First-Year Preceptorial. They also will lead discussions in informal settings and conclude their visit with a public talk in the Nott.

"The idea is to challenge the Union community to step back and think about the broader mission of a liberal arts education," said John Cramsie, associate professor of history and director of General Education. "To value learning for its own sake, to equip ourselves with the skills and competencies to impact our communities, even our world, and to embark on a lifelong test of character and essential values."

Roche’s book, Why Choose the Liberal Arts, was named winner of the 2012 Frederic W. Ness Book Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The award is given annually to the book that best illuminates the goals and practices of a contemporary liberal education.

The book “outlines the benefits of a liberal education for all students striving for success in today’s tough economy,” said Pomona College President David W. Oxtoby, committee chair for the Ness Book Award.

Roche is the author of six other books, including “Why Literature Matters in the 21st Century” and “The Intellectual Appeal of Catholicism and the Idea of a Catholic University.”

He received a bachelor’s degree in the History of Ideas from Williams College, a master’s degree in Philosophy from the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen in Germany and a doctorate in German Literature from Princeton University.

During the winter term, the College will welcome the Nobel-prize winning chemist, playwright and poet Roald Hoffmann, professor emeritus of Chemistry at Cornell University.

The Common Curriculum Speaker Series is sponsored by the General Education Board and Therese McCarty, the Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs.