Columbia University has established a compulsory Freshman course in contemporary civilization. According to President Butler, the object of instruction in this subject is to give first-year college students an outlook on the modern world as well as a point of view that will enable them better to understand and appreciate their subsequent studies.
Such a course or its equivalent would be an invaluable addition to every college curriculum. In these days of economic and social extremists and political confusion any aid to a more balanced viewpoint is worth a trial. Whether the new study at Columbia will really uproot the cruder and more stupid forms of radicalism as well as the more stubborn tendencies of conservatism among immature students is open to grave doubts. But the principle is right.
The man who enters college fresh from the sequestered home or preparatory school usually possesses the traditional ideas of his class or type, and relies upon the petty prejudices and inhibitions of his youth for his attitude upon current problems.
Through a proper understanding and interpretation of history at a time when his ideas are still unset a man can learn to appreciate the point of view of the other fellow and get a better perspective on life. Such a perspective is fundamental to the liberty and freedom for which America has always stood. Tolerance and a breadth of view are the chief values to be gained from a college education, and nowhere as in our universities is it possible so easily to learn these values. If Columbia is really able to inculcate in here students a clearer perspective by her new method of teaching history, and to make curriculum more applicable to a present blending of "red" with "white," by all means let us study and adopt her system.