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On claiming identities

Recently, I attended a writing colloquium on Stanford campus. As I settled into a hard-backed chair and looked around at the fellow attendees, I was immediately intimidated. The room was full of writers who had come to the colloquium to learn and discuss. They looked like, well, writers. Many sported wide-framed glasses, some with edgy…

An open letter announcing a new Humanities Core

The humanities have always stood at the center of a liberal education. To study the humanities is to acquire or hone valuable skills in thinking, researching, and writing, as well as to probe the mysteries and marvels of human experience and aspirations in their diverse forms. These are vital skills. Many of the world’s greatest problems — climate change, inequality, poverty, and conflict — involve questions of value and meaning that the humanities explore. What do we owe to future generations? Is there an obligation to remember the past and if so, how? What is a fair way of distributing benefits and burdens? What does it mean to be — or not to be — a citizen?