Human Being in an Inhuman Age
Debates over which qualities or traits characterize humanity have long fascinated philosophers, scientists, anthropologists, social scientists, novelists and filmmakers. What, in particular, distinguishes us as human, or constitutes our humanity? Is it language and speech, a desire for freedom, consciousness of mortality, the ability to reason, the desire to exert control over “nature” and our environment, or something else that makes us human? What separates humans from animals, and living animals from non-living matter? What counts as authoritative evidence with respect to the question of the human? How do we reckon with the fact that for centuries being “human” was linked to being male and white? How do we interpret claims that we can control nature with technology versus the argument that technology and increasing “advancements” are what has disrupted the delicate balance between human and nonhuman elements? Does our ready access to technology today erode or enhance our humanity? These are only some of the questions posed by our readings and films. This course will be devoted to exploring these ideas and questions which are urgent for our historical moment and our lives as citizens.
Words that Change Worldviews
A handful of people in the past 150 years have used the power of their minds and the power of language to change the thinking of the rest of us. In this Preceptorial, we will examine a few of the people who have caused paradigm shifts in our ways of thinking and consider how the ways in which they communicated their ideas made that happen. We will analyze, for example, some political speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King to see what made them so powerful. We will also look at the writing of Charles Darwin and Rachel Carson, scientists who not only changed their respective fields of biology and ecology but also the assumptions and beliefs of most humans on the planet. Through these and other examples, we will look at several paradigm shifts and how they came about. Together we will come to conclusions about what made these people’s words, which introduced ideas that many at the time found difficult to accept, so very powerful in persuading others to change their views. At the same time, we’ll be learning principles of persuasive argumentation useful for academic coursework and careers in any discipline.
In this class, we will explore the following questions: Why do we suffer? What are the causes of our suffering? Is suffering man-made or divine intervention? Is suffering necessary for our well-being? If suffering is inevitable, how do we cope with it in our contemporary world?
As a class, we will examine these questions about suffering by reading philosophical and literary texts on the problem and meaning of suffering, religion and spirituality, the relationship between good and evil, morality and ethics, and war and atrocity. Texts may include Thomas Merton's The Way of Chuang Tzu, The Book of Job, What the Buddha Taught, Art Spiegelman's Maus, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, Loung Ung's First They Killed my Father, and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis.
What We Know … or Think We Know: The Marketplace of Ideas
The vast networks (traditional and electronic) which provide news, intelligence, perspective, and gossip enlighten our lives, and we believe that what we know (or think we know) provides a critical foundation for how we live. Information drives society today unlike ever before and the free exchange of information, uncensored expression of beliefs, and open competition between perspectives (i.e., the “marketplace of ideas”) is essential for an energetic democracy like the United States. Today, however, the “marketplace of ideas” is endangered by the variety of perspective, the speed of information exchange, the drive to limit access to certain information, and the rhetorical transformation of the marketplace to talking points, headlines, and slogans. Teaching ourselves to read beyond the “lede” has perhaps become more important than ever. While inclined to view this as a modern phenomenon, information's use (and misuse) has a long and rich lineage. This course will use a variety of texts to study several critical past events and to examine what people knew, how they knew it, and evaluate the reliability of the information on which they depended. We will then use that knowledge to seek a better understanding of information’s application in our own lives.
Filling the Emptiness
T. Wareh (Fall)
Our readings focus on the search for meaning in American life: in young people’s friendships, travel, and difficult position between cynicism and romanticism (Kerouac’s On the Road and Rapp’s Red Light Winter); in charismatic religion (Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain); in Walt Whitman’s vision of America (Leaves of Grass); and in Wendell Berry’s essays in cultural criticism. We also spend a week on selections from the Iliad, the great epic that looks urgently for meaning where it is most desperately absent: in the brutal violence of the battlefield. (The French philosopher Simone Weil is our guide to appreciating the contrast between the poet’s humane and tragic sensitivity and the pitiless suffering of the poem’s story.) Our first goal in this course is to become better readers, in the belief that this is the most essential requirement for becoming better thinkers and writers, and part of the way we also become people who are more reflective about our world, our experiences, and ourselves. For our daily discussions, students will contribute questions that lead us to examine and explain and interpret what we have read and will take turns having their writing “workshopped” by the class as a whole.
Do we Control Technology or Does Technology Control Us?
In this section of First-Year Preceptorial we will explore questions about the relationship between humans and technology. The use of tools is one of the defining characteristics of humanity, but lately it seems that we humans may be becoming slaves to our technology. What would it be like to live for even a week without our cell phones; without our cars; without the internet, without electricity? We will explore the relationship between humanity, technology, and human well-being. Our generation is hardly the first to ponder how technology advances and the consequences of increased reliance on technology. We will examine these questions across time and place. Why was Prometheus punished for giving technology (fire) to humans? Why was Frankenstein’s creation considered a “monster”? Fast forwarding to the future, when will humans first be cloned and what will be the consequences? And how will we adapt to a world in which machines are able to out-wit us? The course may not tell you how this is going to end, but it will certainly pose a lot of questions.
We Tell Ourselves Stories
We Tell Ourselves Stories. "We tell ourselves stories in order to live," writes Joan Didion, and this class will take a look at the importance of narrative in the ways we reconcile ourselves to circumstances or seek to transform them, whether the realities involved are historical, social, personal, or (as they usually are) some combination of these. We will read examples of autobiographical reportage (Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, The White Album by Didion, Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington), as well as fiction by James Baldwin, Marilynne Robinson, Flannery O'Connor, and John Cheever.
Human / Nature
The categories of “human,” “nature,” and “human nature” are, it is safe to say, extremely complex and interrelated. In this first-year seminar, we will investigate various representations (literary, scientific, theoretical, religious, artistic) of the natural world, on the one hand, and on the “nature” of what it means to be a human being, on the other. While the natural world – the world “out there” – will be continuously set in contrast to the nature of humanity, we will also certainly be careful to explore in our readings and discussions the ways in which these ostensible opposites intersect and overlap. In effect, we will examine the ways that human nature and the natural world are always already deeply interconnected categories.
In this class you will grapple with these and other related issues both in class discussion and in your writing (and revising) of course papers. Students will submit four (4-5 page) papers throughout the course of the term. Each of these four paper projects asks that you examine a particular critical, theoretical, or historical controversy regarding or in relation to at least one of the fictional texts at hand from course readings. These texts will provide the impetus for your production of a written response to each controversy. One of the controversies involves disagreements about the ways we define the relationship between humans and what may be called “non-humans” (e.g., “androids,” “animals,” or “monsters”). Another involves a controversy about the ways in which human beings interact with the natural world and how humans both shape and are shaped by nature. A third set of texts centers on disagreements about how human beings should properly relate to urban (or “non-natural”) environments. And a final coupling of readings involves the margins or limits to which we may possibly expand the category of “human nature.”
Class discussions will focus on and rehearse the disagreements that have emerged in both academic and public discourses in an effort to help you to become familiar with the issues and claims that you’ll need to wrestle with as you draft and revise your arguments on these subjects.
This course will examine the impact of the Internet, cyberspace and virtual reality on the way the world is inhabited, perceived and represented. Paying attention to issues such as subjectivity and embodiment, we will be considering the transformative effect cyberspace has on conventional readings of the self, as well as traditional understandings of space and time. Questions will be asked concerning operations of power and the ways in which cyberspaces and their cultural representations can operate to both subvert as well as uphold normative structures, looking specifically as issues relating to gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and class. We will be looking at a variety of texts throughout this course, online and offline, fiction, non-fiction and film. Texts include authors such as William Gibson, Donna Haraway, Jeanette Winterson and Neal Stephenson and films such as The Social Network, The Stepford Wives, Hackers and The Matrix Trilogy.
Other People's Religions
O. Solovieva (Winter)
The image of a “global village” has become a standard description of the ever-smaller world in which we live today, pointing to our economic, ecological, political and cultural interdependence. In religious terms, this means that we encounter new, once unfamiliar traditions with much greater frequency and in more direct ways than before. Mass communication technologies make us aware (if not necessarily well-informed) of various “exotic” religious practices and ideas; even more importantly, our encounter with other people’s religions is also taking place right here in our own neighborhoods where mosques rise side-by-side with churches, Hindu teenagers attend their friends’ bar mitzvahs, and college students flock to Buddhist meditation centers for retreats. This intimate encounter with people of other faiths can be both unsettling and rewarding, for it inevitably challenges and transforms our understanding, not only of the “other” but also of ourselves. How do we think about religious heterogeneity? Are all religions valid paths, or is our way the only way? What does it mean to be a Christian who practices Buddhist meditation? What would a Buddhist make of Jewish vision of “God”? Does one’s participation in interreligious dialogue detract from one’s religious commitments or give an opportunity to deepen them? How does one sympathetically understand a radically different worldview? What challenges do other people’s religious traditions pose to American society, and how are these traditions themselves challenged and changed by their new socio-cultural context? What does “religious freedom” mean, and what does it entail? In this course we will discuss these and many other questions arising from the interaction of diverse religious traditions, with a primary focus on the American religious scene. Our sources will include a book by a renowned scholar of religious pluralism Diana Eck, writings by Native American activists and scholars, personal accounts of encounter between the Buddhist and Judeo-Christian traditions, scholarly and fictional works detailing the appropriations of the “Eastern wisdom” by the American counterculture and pop-culture, written and visual accounts of American Muslims’ experiences, and other texts and films.
This course surveys the work of some eloquent advocates of ideas that in one way or another attack the foundations of traditional Western culture. Our readings will include writers such as Rousseau, who argues that civilization has led not to progress but to the moral debasement of the human species; Friedrich Nietzsche, who assaults (among other things) Judeo-Christian theology and ethics, rejects every form of metaphysics, and substitutes "perspectivism" for eternal truth; Sigmund Freud, who argues that the price of order and civilization is the purposeful mutilation of our instinctual desire; and Karl Marx, who attacks capitalism and calls upon the poor to revolt and establish a communist society. We will also look at feminist writers, such as Simone de Beauvoir and Susan Faludi, who consider the myriad ways men oppress women and offer thorough-going alternatives; queer theorists such as Judith Butler and Adrienne Rich, who explore heterosexuality as a social construction. Other writers may include Peter Singer, who champions animal liberation, vegetarianism, and voluntary euthanasia, while charging that all excess wealth is criminal; Reg Morrison, who traces all our environmental crises to destructive (and probably irreversible) overreaching by a demented "plague species" (humans); Christopher Clausen, who insists that we are living in a "post-cultural" age and mocks the current American obsession with cultural diversity; and, Sherwin Nuland, who debunks the myth of "death with dignity" with a chillingly detailed account of what actually goes on in American hospitals and ICUs. Students will be asked, not to agree with the often jolting and unexpected stands of these "extremists," but to explain and defend their own views in the light of our authors' radical insights.
Water - How It Has Helped and Hindered Civilizations
Water is essential for our survival, therefore it is inevitable that water has played a key role in determining when and where civilizations have developed. How civilizations procure and manage water can have considerable influence over their growth, their consolidation of power, and in some instances their eventual decline. We will explore the importance of water to civilizations such as the ancient Mesopotamians and other peoples of the Fertile Crescent area of the Middle East, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Muslim empire of the middle ages, the British Empire, right up to the modern civilizations in North America and Australia. Readings pertinent to the subject will come from the works of Archimedes, the Bible and Koran, Leonardo DaVinci, Robert Harris, Patrick O'Brien, Mark Twain, and others.
The Romantic Self, Psychoanalysis and their Offspring
The Romantic period in literature is often characterized as a time of nascent psychological exploration, anticipating the psychoanalytic thought of Freud and his successors. Many of the Romantics’ chief concerns--authenticity, autonomy, individuality, and the alleged corrupting effects of civilized society--still inform our understanding of ourselves today. In this class, we will examine how these concerns informed later psychoanalytic work. We will read such Romantic authors as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, and Austin against classic psychoanalytic texts by Freud, Jung, and Lacan, as well as later works by Klein, Winnicott, Bollas, and Benjamin in order to understand how these different movements conceptualized interpretation, insight, and the relationship between self and other as important means to understand ourselves in the world.
Migration and Identity in the 20th Century
According to Meera Alexander, an internationally renowned author of the Indian diaspora, the effect of migration is the following: "the shock of arrival [in a new place] is multifold--what was borne in the mind is jarred, tossed into new shapes, an exciting exfoliation of sense. What we were in that other life is shattered open. But the worlds we now inhabit still speak of the need for invention, of ancestors, of faith." In this course we will explore how migration both creates a painful "shatter[ing]" of the past and offers the "exciting" possibility of "invention." We will focus on the movement of bodies and cultures across national and regional boundaries in the twentieth century to examine how migration reshapes the identities both of the migrants themselves and of all those whom they encounter. More specifically, we will ask how this reshaping of identity is reflected, questioned, or facilitated in fiction, film, and critical essays. Possible texts for this course include Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker, Ismaël Ferroukhi's Le grand voyage, and Amara Lakhous’ Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio.
Goodness, Happiness and Truthi-ness
In this course, we are going to look at the relation of goodness and happiness – does being morally good make a person happy? Or could we be happier if we threw off the chains of moral constraints? We will examine how some philosophers, fiction writers, political theorists, religious traditions, and psychologists have seen the relation of goodness and happiness. At the end of the course, we’ll also turn to truth(-i-ness). Is there “real” “objective” truth? Or is everything a matter of social convention or personal choice?
Dream Cafe: Viewing Culture through Dreams
P. Culbert (Winter)
How do we define ourselves through dreams? How do artistic and literary representations of dreams speak to our communal understanding? Are the archetypes of our dreams universal? How do artists shape dreams to reflect culture? We’ll look at dreams through the eyes of writers, artists, playwrights, film makers. We’ll view different cultures through the medium of dreams. We’ll research the science of dream theory and look at how the psychology of dreams has shaped how we view dreams. Course readings and writings will encourage critical evaluation of these questions on a personal, individual basis and on a communal, reflective level. Students will learn to read texts critically, showing an understanding of and ability to critically evaluate complex ideas from diverse perspectives. Students will practice effective speaking in discussing ideas, critically engaging in dialogue with others about the ideas in the texts and develop effective arguments supporting a focused thesis, including analysis of evidence to support conclusions. Students will practice effective writing, completing frequent writing assignments of a variety of lengths & styles.
Ridiculed, Opposed, Accepted: How to Make Radical Ideas Work
Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, Milton Friedman and Noam Chomsky, Bob Dylan and John Lennon, Glen Beck and Jon Stewart: just some of figures we'll study, figures who have sought to kick and cajole people into positions they never before would before have seriously contemplated taking. So, how does one radically change minds? What methods work and why? Or, more importantly, why even bother to try? This is a course for students seriously interested in how rhetoric and radicalism work, from whatever perspective; students will not only study radical positions but also produce a manifesto or two of their own, in a variety of possible formats. And maybe even persuade a few people--or themselves--of things they never would have believed before.
Impersonation and Authenticity
P. Wareh (Winter)
What is the difference between being yourself and playing a role? Does existing in society mean putting on a persona? If your identity changes from situation to situation, how is it possible to determine the real “you”? Do different cultural moments encourage more or less authentic expression of the individual? These are the kinds of questions we will explore in a wide range texts that will include history (The Return of Martin Guerre), autobiography (The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass), and comedy (The Importance of Being Earnest). From the advice given to Renaissance courtiers to autobiographical accounts of modern day teenagers and their struggle to create themselves, we will consider how interacting with others may involve acting a role. Throughout our readings and discussion, we will think about the specific textual and cultural details of these works and also ask whether creating a persona is a universal human preoccupation.
Literature, Ethics, and the Environment
K. Lynes (Fall)
In this course we will consider and explore the intersections of human cultures and the environment, with an emphasis on the social and cultural dynamics of the environment and environmental action. Some questions we will consider: What are the ethical questions that we pose and wrestle with as we interact with and within our environment? What is the place of literature in community, literacy, and environmental activism? To what extent does place matter in our conceptions of what nature is? What are the connections between race, class, and environmental degradation and environmental activism? How do class and gender enter into the nexus of ethical considerations that shape our environment? We will consider both the concept of “nature” as we consider the concept of human culture. How does the language we use when writing about nature affect what we do in, for, and to nature? We will consider both the concept of “nature” as we consider the concept of human culture. This course is collaborative in nature, and as such students should bring their interests, curiosities, and discoveries to add to the mix. A partial list of possible readings include those by Terry Tempest Williams, Barbara Kingsolver, Evelyn White, bell hooks, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Luther Standing Bear, Running-Grass, Simon Ortiz, Ana Castillo, Amitav Ghosh, Wangari Maathai, readings from Orion magazine.
The Normal and the Pathological
You often feel sad – do you suffer from depression? You are obsessed with not eating too much – are you anorexic? You cannot concentrate – do you suffer from ADHD? Starting in the nineteenth century, these questions and others have become increasingly more relevant in the Western world. Whether it is from the mouth of Dr. Phil or from the pages of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), we are told that the answers to most of our existential questions lie in our psyche. But how do we draw the line between the normal and the pathological? History shows that this line has been constantly redrawn under the influence of broad cultural changes, business decisions, or personal interests. After a brief general introduction on the history of psychiatry, this course will focus on a select number of psychiatric diseases and show how the history of each involved a combination of conceptual, cultural and social factors. The course will debate the proposition that these diseases are historically constructed.
Whether or not we believe in ghosts, most of us enjoy a good creepy story. In this course we'll read lots of them, and will take a close look at the haunted lives of their characters. What is it to be haunted, after all? Haunts, it seems, come in many forms, and can be born of memory, of trauma, of regret, of unfulfilled desire, of vanity, of shame, of family secrets, and of the collective history of a population. Haunts, as our texts will reveal, can inhabit houses, towns, objects, and entire regions of a country. We will examine questions such as: How do our haunts show us who we are? What do our haunts tell us about where we come from? About our community? About our culture? And just how much are we responsible for their creation? Readings for the course may include short fiction by Julio Cortazar and Edgar Allan Poe; novels by Rebecca Brown, Daphne du Maurier, Oscar Wilde, and Rebecca Wolff; cross-genre work by Selah Saterstrom; a play by Alan Ayckbourn; and critical texts. Excerpts of films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, by Albert and David Maysles, and by Michael Sucsy may also be incorporated. We will write both critically and creatively.
What's College For?
Why do colleges and universities exist and why do women and men seek them out? Do they exist to nurture our humanity, moral imagination, and ethical sensibilities? Are they businesses that sell student-customers the essential credentials for lucrative employment in an entrepreneurial economy? Are they institutions that protect and renew essential human qualities against the fads, fashions, and fanaticisms of any particular moment in time? Do they exist to provide a ‘college experience’ in which socializing, career networking, and extracurricular activities are really more important than education? Are they the crucial rung on the ladder of social mobility? Do they exist to serve the pubic good or simply private, personal gain? Why are you here? We think this is a modern debate, but teachers, students, and citizens have wrestled with similar questions for centuries and they continue to decisively affect colleges and universities around the globe. We can say for certain that the founding principle of colleges and universities concerns education, to teach and learn certain ‘ways of knowing’. So, they exist to educate, but precisely what kind of education, for what purpose, for whose benefit, and paid for by whom? This Preceptorial will debate questions like these. In doing so we will examine how individuals inside and outside colleges and universities have grappled with such questions, from historians and teachers to novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers. We will critically read ‘texts’ (broadly defined), discuss with each other the insights to be found in them, and develop sound evidence-based and aesthetically pleasing written arguments about their meaning and value. Why are you here?
U.S. Latino/a Literature
This course is an introduction to contemporary US Latino/a literature written in English, with a focus on Mexican-Americans/Chicanos, Puerto Rican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, and Dominican-Americans. We will read representative works of various genres within a cultural context: drama, poetry, narrative (short story and novel), and film. Topics to be covered: individual and group identity in relationship to race/ethnicity/nationality, social/economic class, gender, being multicultural versus “living on the margins,” the struggle for self-determination, and notions of mestizaje and its impact on cultural production. The goals of the course, in addition to acquainting students with significant works of US Latino/a literature, include strengthening reading ability and sharpening critical-thinking skills.
This multidisciplinary course will explore various kinds of responsibility, including responsibility to oneself, to others, to society, and to the divine. Some works will focus upon one kind of responsibility, while others will focus upon several kinds. In order to prepare students to live in a global society, we will explore works from different cultures, perspectives, belief systems and time periods. Extensive background material will be provided for each work and author in order to establish the appropriate context. We will also study cognitive illusions by reading The Invisible Gorilla so that students can themselves become more responsible decision-makers. The following works, and probably two or three more, will most likely be studied: Handouts of poetry; Matheson, “Button, Button”; LeGuin, “The Ones Who Walk away from Omelas”; Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Sophocles, Oedipus the King (translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics); The Adjustment Bureau (film); Spirited Away (film); The Book of Genesis [from the Bible], Illustrated by R. Crumb; Chabris and Simons, The Invisible Gorilla; Vea, Gods Go Begging; and one other work that students will choose from a list (in order to compare it in an essay to Gods Go Begging). If Union invites a noteworthy speaker to campus while the course is being taught, a work by that speaker might also be added to the syllabus. This course will train students for college-level reading, analysis, writing, and class discussion. Students will write approximately five essays, give at least one oral report, and take quizzes and a final exam.
Animals and Humans
This course is a historical, scientific, and philosophical study of the ways we have thought about and treated our fellow creatures. It focuses in particular on the narcissistic human domination of nature-supported by both religious and secular traditions-that has brought us to the desperate ecological crisis now threatening the world. It reflects on what, if anything, can be done about all this.
Reading List: Bible readings, selections from Montaigne (hand-outs) Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (Oxford) Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals (New World Library) Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals ( Back Bay Books) Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, The Face on Your Plate (Norton) Reg Morrison, The Spirit in the Gene (Cornell) Alan Weisman, The World Without Us (Picador)
Some of Our Favorite Questions
Is there a God? Why should we be moral? Can we survive death (and can we harm the dead? Is life meaningless? Can machines someday think? Do we have free will? We will explore some of the basic (or at least initial) questions of metaphysics. No answers promised, not because there are no answers – there are some! – but because in this course we are just beginning to gather resources for answers. We will select four topics and write three analytical responses which call for effective explanation of the issues and proposals raised in the metaphysical literature. The emphasis is on lively but focused discussion and careful and correct writing.
First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage? Love, Sex, and Marriage in America
Within the last two years, New York has permitted for the first time both no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage. Regardless of an individual’s feelings about such policy shifts, it remains undeniable that expectations for and even definitions of love, sex, and marriage are undergoing tremendous change in New York and the contemporary United States as a whole. In this preceptorial, we will consider such issues as the rise of companionate marriage, the debates over legalizing polygamy and same-sex marriage, the growing popularity of cohabitation without marriage, and assorted critiques of these and other trends. We will read, watch, and analyze various depictions of American love, sex, and marriage through the generations, including The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, Big Love, The Commitment by Dan Savage, and Quiverfull by Kathryn Joyce. In the process, we will ponder how the practices and institutions associated with our most private lives have broader, public implications and the extent to which they are natural, innate, and timeless; culturally constructed, externally imposed, and subject to change; or somewhere in between.
Media Accuracy, Credibility, Fairness, and Reliability
According to a published report by The American Society of Newspaper Editors, “Seventy-eight percent of U.S. adults believe there’s bias in the news media.” In order to carry out our social responsibilities, we ought to be able to think critically and evaluate the information we get through the media: radio, TV, Internet, movies, books, newspapers, and magazines.
In this course, students will:
• Gain an increased awareness of inaccuracies in the media and be provided with tools to search for different opinions and perspectives
• Be inspired to critically reflect on increasingly complex social, political, and cultural issues
• Learn how to read between the lines and form their own independent opinions despite the proliferation of media outlets and PR tricks
• Be better prepared to identify WMD (Weapons of Mass Distraction)
• Have ample opportunity to use and enhance their critical thinking abilities
As citizens and future leaders, our students will be better equipped to protect great values such as democracy, civil liberties, peace and justice if they are well informed.