Yes, We’re Engaged in Critical Thinking

Our Spring semester programming began last week with a brilliant talk by Lynn Pasquerella, president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities. She spoke passionately about the important role liberal education must play in the health of our democracy. Pasquerella emphasized central role “educating for democracy” must play in maintaining the health of our society. Democratic societies are by no means unbreakable; the practices, institutions and shared values that sustain them must be continually cultivated and renewed. And this can be achieved, Pasquerella argues, only by a citizenry trained in critical thinking. At the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues we strive to center our work around critical thinking. I was thinking about this earlier today as I was reading Ibram X. Kendi’s acclaimed How to be an Antiracist. Early in the book, Kendi makes the simple but quite astute observation that “Definitions anchor us in principles.” He goes on to say that, “This is not a light point: If we don’t do the basic work of defining the kind of people we want to be in language that is stable and consistent, we can’t work toward stable, consistent goals.” No doubt Kendi’s talk on Thursday will be grounded in stable, consistent language. We hope to see you there, ready to exercise your critical thinking skills.