Panel discusses intellectual culture at La Salle
“You look into things. You don’t accept superficial answers.”
Philosophy Chair Dr. Marc Moreau’s explanation of an inquisitive person began Tuesday afternoon’s philosophical panel discussion entitled “La Salle’s Intellectual Culture: Healthy or Waning?”
The panel discussion, which was comprised of four professors from various areas of La Salle’s studies, was an initiative proposed to the philosophy department by senior philosophy major Anthony Delcollo and La Salle’s Philosophy Club.
“I took a look at some experiences I’ve had at La Salle,” Delcollo said, “and the environment here did not seem to be conducive to scholarly panel discussions.”
So Delcollo and the Philosophy Club took matters into their own hands.
The dialogue drew various members of the La Salle faculty as well as a good number of students to the Dunleavy Room April 15 to observe the conversation and partake in a question and answer session to generate other opinions and concerns about students’ intellectual stimulation on campus. Each member of the panel related the general question to the students of La Salle as well as their particular fields.
Moreau used his portion of the discussion to describe what makes an intellectual person and the problems that students face as they scramble to finish required classes and face financial problems, even if they want to take intellectually stimulating courses and enrich their education beyond their majors.
Moreau talked about the importance of being an inquisitive person as one who is cognizant of worldly matters and chooses to seek out answers.
“[Inquisitive people] get behind the headlines to see what forces are going on there,” he stated. “They are no dupes.”
But despite these concerns, Moreau feels that La Salle’s intellectual culture is still healthy.
“The fact that students posed this question and orchestrated this presentation proves that,” he said.
The next speaker, Director of La Salle’s Nutrition Program Jule Anne Hestenburg, drew parallels of intellectualism to America’s public health. She spoke about thinking critically from a biological standpoint and believed that the country’s weight problems and general unhealthiness were a result of a lack of intellectual understanding. Hestenburg developed an analogy relating the caloric input and intellectual input, saying that students do not process the information they absorb while in school.
David Falcone, an associate professor from the psychology department, read prepared remarks comparing his experience as a military medic trainer and his time as a civilian educator. His responsibility when training medics, he said, was to impart bare-minimum medical skills to as many fellow soldiers as possible. Falcone’s conception of a proper university education was precisely the opposite: Giving students access to a much deeper and more intensive body of knowledge.
Falcone also suggested that universities should be the “last line of resistance” against an anti-intellectual job market. In order to counteract the influence of that market, Falcone said, schools need to develop new testing methods for students and new accountability measures for professors. The other panelists concurred that innovations in testing are vital to reinvigorate the nation’s intellectual culture.
Dr. Jennifer Kleinow, an assistant professor of speech, language and hearing science, discussed the paucity of Ph.D. candidates in her field. She recommended that the university expand the undergraduate research program because it gives students an appreciation for the process of original, scholarly research.
After the panelists delivered their remarks, the floor was opened for questions and comments from the audience. Delcollo asked why so many find academic fields unappealing. In response, Moreau expounded the cultural context which discourages scholarly engagements among Americans. Schools which tailor their programs toward high-paying jobs rather than scholarship must share the blame.
“Is the onus on the university,” Moreau asked, “or on the student?”firstname.lastname@example.org
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