Animating education

I’ve been following Chris Long for the past few years. He’s one of the Penn State faculty’s more active and visible members, and as an associate dean he’s done a lot of great work with the digital humanities to bridge old and new.

Unfortunately for Penn Staters, he’s leaving later this month for Michigan State to become Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. In a post reflecting on this personal/professional change, he speaks to the value of land-grant institutions:

What has animated my work at Penn State and motivates my move to Michigan State is a deep and abiding commitment to their shared land grant mission to “promote the liberal and practical education” of citizens.

Although the land grant mission is often identified with the practical side of the educational endeavor, that is, with the agricultural and STEM fields that contribute so much to our ability to survive and thrive in complex, interconnected environments, the land grant mission is, in fact, rooted in those humanistic and aesthetic capacities that enable us to navigate liminal spaces in ways that enrich the world we share. …

Cultivating those habits of thinking and acting that enable us to settle conscientiously into ambiguity and to open ourselves to new possibilities without denying the one or limiting the other is the heart of the land grant mission.

Just as the Ivies have learned to do more than train an elite, the rest of our institutions have to remember that they’re here to do more than train a workforce.