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Westmont Conference Examines Liberal Arts in Post-Truth Age

The Westmont Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts will host the 17th annual Conversation on the Liberal Arts, Knowledge in Crisis: Liberal Learning in a Post- Truth Age, March 22-24 at Westmont College.

At the event, scholars, administrators, students and practitioners will consider how the tools of a liberal-arts education can help people navigate the changing landscape of knowledge, Westmont said. Speakers include William Deresiewicz, Lynn Hunt, Martín Carcasson and Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig.

“With ample time for open discussion in addition to formal presentations, this intimate conference is designed to stimulate teaching and learning through conversation,” said Chris Hoeckley, director of the Gaede Institute.

“Participants come from every level of the academy, but also from journalistic outlets, nonprofits, religious ministries, and other organizations that have an interest in liberal education, ensuring a rich variety of perspectives," Hoeckley said.

“The conference will be kept rather small with fewer than 100 participants to better stimulate the teaching and learning through conversation rather than lecture,” Hoeckley said. “The wide array of backgrounds from those participating also means a wide range of perspectives.”

Deresiewicz, an award-winning author and essayist, taught English at Yale and Columbia before becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He wrote the New York Times bestseller Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life.

Deresiewicz also has written numerous articles including, recently, In Defense of Facts for The Atlantic and On Political Correctness for The American Scholar. He won the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, the Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and a Sydney Award.

He is a three-time National Magazine Award nominee.

Hunt, a distinguished research professor in history at UCLA, specializes in the French Revolution. She has undertaken wide-ranging examinations of human rights, time, religious pluralism, and historiography, Westmont said.

Among Hunt's books are Writing History in the Global Era, Inventing Human Rights, and Telling the Truth About History.

Before serving at UCLA, she taught at the University of Pennsylvania (1987-98) and the University of California, Berkeley (1974-87). She earned her BA from Carleton College and MA and doctorate from Stanford University.

Carcasson, professor in the communication studies department at Colorado State University, founded and directs the CSU Center for Public Deliberation, an interdisciplinary center that prepares students for practical engagement in deliberative democracy.

His research with the Kettering Foundation’s Deliberative Democracy Consortium most recently includes his report titled Process Matters: Human Nature, Democracy, and a Call for Rediscovering Wisdom.

Carcasson’s research has been published in Rhetoric and Public Affairs, the International Journal of Conflict Resolution, and the Quarterly Journal of Speech.

Stoker Bruenig, an assistant editor and opinion columnist at The Washington Post, served as staff writer at The New Republic, and contributes articles to a range of periodicals including The Atlantic, The American Conservative and Jacobin Magazine.

She has done graduate work in religion at Cambridge University and Brown University.

For full conference information, visit Registration includes meals (Friday dinner through Saturday lunch) as well as shuttle service between select hotels and the Westmont campus.

— Scott Craig for Westmont College.


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