Video: Experts? Bah. We need more educated generalists.

liberal arts talk

On a more serious note, stick with this somewhat longish video.

Bennington College President Liz Coleman gives an understated yet compelling talk about the dangers of leaving society in the hands of narrowly focused “experts,” politicians and religious radicals — and the need for a liberal arts education to get off the fence and start emphasizing action and civic engagement.

Over the past century, the expert has overthrown the educated generalist to become the sole model of intellectual accomplishment. Expertise has for sure had its moments, but the price of its dominance is enormous.

Subject matters are broken up in smaller and smaller pieces, with increasing emphasis on the technical and obscure. We have even managed to make the study of literature arcane. You may think you know what is going on in that Jane Austin novel — that is until your first encounter with postmodern deconstructionism.

The progression of today’s college student is to jettison every interest except one, and within that one to continually narrow the focus, learning more and more about less and less. This, despite the evidence all around us, of the interconnectedness of things.