“Liberal Education: Why, How, and for Whom” Lecture, Feb. 2

“Liberal Education: Why, How, and for Whom” Lecture, Feb. 2

The College of Arts and Sciences presents Roosevelt Montás, PhD, of Columbia University, who will speak on the history, meaning, and future of liberal education.

Media Contact: Robby Piazzaroli, rpiazzaroli@fairfield.edu, 203-254-4000 x2597

On Thursday, Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. in the Barone Campus Center Oak Room, the College of Arts and Sciences will host speaker Roosevelt Montás, PhD, of Columbia University for his lecture entitled “Liberal Education: Why, How, and for Whom.” 

Dr. Montás, senior lecturer in American Studies and English at Columbia, is the author of several works including Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation (Princeton, 2021).

“Dr. Montás is prolific scholar of early American culture,” said Nels Pearson, PhD, professor of English and director of the Humanities Institute at Fairfield. “He has therefore written and thought deeply about the role of liberal arts and classical literature in higher education, especially in our global moment.”

“As a first-generation college student from the Dominican Republic, Dr. Montás also approaches these issues in the context of diversity and inclusion,” Dr. Pearson continued, “and argues that 'classics' are not relics of former belief systems, but springboards to liberation, independence, and even revolutionary action.”

Dr. Montás was director of the Center for the Core Curriculum at Columbia College from 2008 to 2018. He specializes in antebellum American literature and culture, with a particular interest in American citizenship.  His dissertation, Rethinking America: Abolitionism and the Antebellum Transformation of the Discourse of National Identity, won Columbia University’s 2004 Bancroft Award. In 2000, he received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student. 

“Professor Montás gives students an understanding,” said Elizabeth A. Petrino, PhD, professor of English at Fairfield and director of the Magis Core Curriculum, “of how the inspired teaching of the classics prepares students to engage in self-analysis and mature thought.”

In his book, Dr. Petrino explained, “Montás contends that the way the core curriculum is taught — through an open, inclusive framework, rather than a way that excludes diverse experience — is as important as its content. Rather than a checklist of required courses, the core curriculum at Fairfield — aptly titled the “Magis” or “for the greater good” — provides, we hope, the freedom students need to embrace their own educations and gives them the foundation of just such a liberal arts education.”

Dr. Montás teaches “Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West,” a year-long course on primary texts in moral and political thought, as well as seminars in American studies including “Freedom and Citizenship in the United States.” He is director of the Columbia University Center for American Studies’ Freedom and Citizenship Program in collaboration with the Double Discovery Center.  He speaks and writes on the history, meaning, and future of liberal education.

This event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Vincent J. Rosivach Lecture Series in Ancient Mediterranean Studies, the Magis Core, and the Humanities Institute's "Humanities at Work" series. No registration is necessary.

Posted On: January 16, 2023

Volume: 54 Number: 63

Fairfield University is the modern Jesuit University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s five schools. In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Conecticut coast just an hour from New York City.