January 30: Round Table on Higher Education, in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy

On January 30, Bard College Berlin hosted "The 8th Round Table on Higher Education," dedicated to the topic of "Education and Engagement." The event was organized in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.

A common claim of liberal arts programs – and indeed many other forms of higher education – today is that they form “responsible citizens,” people who are engaged in a meaningful way with their context of life. Such engagement can be assumed to encompass political participation, contributions to a community, and initiative and creativity in the workplace, along with a commitment to the importance of family and personal relationships. But what does the promise of linking university education to such engagement actually mean? Often, it is connected to an awareness that education now takes place in a global framework.  This not only means that students may be educated outside of their country of national origin, but that discrete cultural models of education are breaking down, or opening out to new transnationally defined possibilities.

How can education remain rooted in its attachment to a social goal in this transnational framework? What are the kinds of knowledge that are defined as important and fundamental in such a situation? Much debate has taken place over the roles of the “traditional” manifestations of the humanities in the new global educational environment. Higher education has seen many kinds of content and method appear in and disappear from the university curriculum, their fate tied to particular forms of power and notions of cultural authority. These three issues, the significance, context and means of “engagement,” were the subject of the Round Table. 

The event featured welcome remarks by Prof. Dr. Thomas Rommel (Rector and Provost, Bard College Berlin) and May Baptista (Deputy Cultural Attaché, U.S. Embassy in Berlin), statements by Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Galt Harpham (President and Director of the National Humanities Center, USA) and Prof. em. Micha Brumlik (Professor at the Institute for Educational Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, and Senior Advisor Zentrum Jüdische Studien Berlin/Brandenburg), as well as a discussion with the audience.              

A video of the Round Table is available here.