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The Future of Higher Education

The Humanities, the Experience of the Transcendent, and the Future of Higher Education: A Symposium


June 18–21, 2015 • Athens, Greece


This symposium seeks to explore the past, present, and future of the humanities, and what the humanities and the world of learning can contribute to the world today.

Traditionally, the study of the humanities has provided an avenue for exploring and understanding the questions of meaning in life, for attaining a level of cultural literacy, and preparing individuals to think critically—both in daily life and about the larger issues facing human society—providing the essential resources necessary for developing an integral vision of what it means to be a flourishing and well-developed human being.
Moreover, the transcendent dimension of the humanities invites us to go beyond our limited selves and to explore our own relation to larger spheres of concern. Whether entering into dialogue with the minds, ideas, and cultures of the past, or the larger human concerns that extend beyond us as individuals today, the humanities have provided a vital resource for exploring our own relationships to society and the greater world. Is this aspect of the humanities still being sufficiently emphasized, and to what degree are the humanities still capable of opening us up to larger world in which we participate?

It could be argued that, in recent years, the humanities have come under attack, both inside and outside of the academic world. The increased emphasis on education as a vocational enterprise, the increased emphasis on technique over content, the postmodern impulse, and the idea that the study of the humanities should emulate the methods of the exact sciences, have all brought into question the contemporary value—and even the future—of the humanities.

This symposium seeks to explore how these developments came about and, more importantly, how a renewed vision and sense of purpose could reestablish the value and integrity of the humanities in the cultivation of human life.

Co-sponsored by the Cosmopolis Project and the Association for the Study of Esotericism