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Connection to 250th anniversary and value of liberal arts education discussed on “Here and Now”

Lafayette’s summer reading and orientation program was highlighted on National Public Radio’s “Here and Now” Friday, Aug. 10.

George Panichas, Hogg Professor and head of philosophy, was interviewed, along with faculty members from Stonehill College and Franklin Pierce College, for a roundtable discussion about the growing trend of college summer reading programs.

“Here and Now” is carried by NPR affiliates across the country. The segment was the day’s centerpiece interview and can be heard in its entirety on the “Here and Now” website.

The required summer reading assignment for Lafayette’s Class of 2011 is John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, which will also be the focus of small group discussions on campus during orientation which begins Aug. 23. The book was chosen as part of the College’s celebration of the life and legacy of the man for whom it is named: the Marquis de Lafayette, in observance of the 250th anniversary of the Marquis’ birth on Sept. 6, 1757.

During the interview, Panichas discussed the selection of Mill’s book as a tie in with both the 250th anniversary and the significance of a liberal arts education. On Liberty is “an important essay for a variety of reasons, one of which plays to the theme for our incoming students and that is the value of a liberal arts education,” he said. “Mill provides a robust defense of two things indispensable in a liberal arts education — freedom of expression and free inquiry.”

The inspiration for choosing Mill’s On Liberty came from the author’s famous eulogy published on the occasion of Lafayette’s death. In it, Mill praises Lafayette as “the living representative of whatever was best and purest in the spirit, and truest in the traditions of his age.” Mill’s eulogy in its entirety was also shared with each incoming freshman as part of the summer reading assignment, as well as a copy of A Son and His Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington, the companion to a historical exhibition opening on campus on Sept. 6.

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