The Harvard of today retains a basic faith in the ancient tradition of "liberal learning," despite pressure from society and the increasing specialization of academic work, President Pusey told a congregation of graduating seniors yesterday.
"Awareness of knowledge, love of learning, humane concern--these were the aims of the old-time liberal arts college. Reinterpreted and stretched, they remain our aims," he said at the annual Baccalaureate service.
Undaunted by a brief shower, 250 seniors in cap and gown had queued up in the far corner of the Yard and marched in formal procession to Memorial Church, doffing their hats in the traditional manner as they passed the statue of John Harvard.
Pusey in his Baccalaureate address said that the real purpose of liberal education is to stimulate a process of personal discovery. "Harvard has wanted not only to help you to learn, but also has wanted most deeply to help you learn about yourselves--both about what you are and what you might become."
Stresses Religious Faith
For this reason he laid special stress on the importance of religious faith as part of a liberal education. Pusey said he was well aware that the subject of religion causes "ambiguity and difficulty" in a university community which contains both believers and non-believers.
"Yet for the believer, God is the chief source of mind's power, and it is He, not mind, who deserves the chief place of adoration in this or any university community," the President stated.
In his discussion of the roots of contemporary liberal education, Pusey identified two educational ideas which emerged in the nineteenth century to alter the traditional concept of education as the transmission of a relatively fixed body of knowledge.
The first of these was the notion of adapting educational programs to fit the student, rather than bending the student into a rigid academic mold. This idea of educating the individual qua individual continues strong today, Pusey said, and forms the justification for the College's tutorial program, and, more recently, for the freshman seminars.
The second idea he identified was the theory, so prominent in the writings of John Dewey, that education should be an agent of social reform and regeneration, and that "the guiding aim for education from school through college was to produce a democratically educated citizenry."