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Notable Speeches

The luncheons and socials sponsored by the Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa feature prominent speakers who are experts in their professions and whose chosen topics bear on the association goal of advancing liberal education.

The following speeches and presentations may be read online:

Michael Zimmerman, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, The Evergreen State College; Chair, Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA)
“The benefits of a liberal education don’t only apply to individuals. There’s ample evidence to suggest that our democracy functions best when we have broadly educated citizens – and this is nothing new. As Martha Nussbaum has said, 'From early on, leading American educators connected the liberal arts to the preparation of informed, independent, and sympathetic democratic citizens.'

James Clauss, Professor of Classics, University of Washington
“We need to ask ourselves if STEM 24/7 is what we envisage as the future of higher education. Business needs and state’s interests are real and I take them seriously, but there are other needs and interests to be considered… Among the 15 top professions that liberal arts graduates pursue include all levels of teachers; lawyers, judges and magistrates; chief executives and legislators; social workers; clergy; accountants and auditors; and others whose work we depend on. If everyone goes into STEM, who will perform these critical tasks? Those who could not make it in STEM? We complain about teaching in K-12. Why don’t we view their contributions to society as important as the designer of the next i-Thing and pay them salaries comparable to the high-demand, high-paying jobs open today? … But there are other needs that the humanities and social sciences address, such as supporting the need for a citizenry that can think critically and vote wisely when it comes to choosing thoughtful leaders or creating beneficial laws. … How about exposure to history to put recent discoveries in a larger context and avoid repeating past mistakes? How about exposure to other cultures so that our graduates’ future work might have broader relevance and outreach? These are the sorts of topics that are at the heart of humanistic and social scientific research and teaching, which we need and perhaps even more so given the overwhelmingly narrow purview of STEM if left unsupported within the confines of its disciplines.

Debra Glassman, Senior Lecturer, Foster School of Business, University of Washington (PDF)
“The European Debt Crisis and the Global Economy”

John Churchill, Secretary, Phi Beta Kappa
“Phi Beta Kappa has no interest in being transformed from an object of broad aspiration into a badge of inherited privilege. For that reason we have an interest in reversing the erosion of the arts and sciences, to ensure that they remain broadly available and accessible throughout higher education, so that the influence of their study pervades more fully the culture of the country. Our aim is to advance the capacity of Americans to choose well and wisely, in their careers, in their civic and political lives, in their personal relations, and in their lives as human beings seeking meaning and value.

Jean Floten, Chancellor, WGU Washington
“Some of us, and I am one, believe that revolution in higher education is occurring right now and the future is so bright you need to wear shades.…  I believe we are witnessing the people who are now shaping that future, but we have to dig to watch them at work and see what they are building.… These tools, like the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia, are changing the way students think, learn, and interact — and their brain patterns are changing. They are also changing the way we see the world.

Generations X, Y, and Z: The Evolution of Learning in a Multimedia World: Perspectives from a University Librarian
Jill McKinstry, Director, Odegaard Undergraduate Library; Special Assistant to Dean of University Libraries for Undergraduate Education, University of Washington
“The student of today may have more options or ready access to discovery tools, publishing, and production, but the real contributions to new knowledge come about through hard work, diligence, critical evaluation, analysis, and dialogue. There are no proven shortcuts to that. But we do our best to facilitate the process by providing resources, space, and our expertise.

“Good Germans” and the Holocaust
Robert P. Ericksen, Kurt Mayer Professor of Holocaust Studies, Pacific Lutheran University
It proved difficult to find resistance to Adolf Hitler within churches or universities.

Cases and Controversies: Reflections of a Judge on the Judiciary
Washington State Supreme Court Justice Bobbe J. Bridge (retired)
“I am concerned about trends suggesting that our judicial system, and particularly the talented and committed people who wear the robes, are to be subjected to the same ‘lobbying’ and ‘ballot box’ pressures that is to be expected in the executive and legislative branches.”

Origins of the Organization and a Special Tribute
Gerald J. Oppenheimer, Vice President
“Like many other good things, the Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa owes its existence to a few individuals who recognized a need and an opportunity and took the appropriate actions. These founding mothers and fathers deserve a brief mention.”

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