CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
UI symposium to compare classic education models with modern liberal
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Just as professors, administrators, parents, and
students weigh the merits of a liberal arts education against those of
an education focused on job-related skills, so did the ancient Greek educators
debate practical versus theoretical knowledge as the basis for education.
A group of University of Iowa professors along with top scholars in a variety
of fields from universities nationwide will gather for the 1998 Obermann
Humanities Symposium October 22-24 to discuss how this ancient debate can
inform discussions about humanities education as we move into the 21st
The interdisciplinary symposium, titled "Civic Education in Classical
Athens and Humanities Education Today," will be held at various locations
on the UI campus and is sponsored by the UI Obermann Center for Advanced
Studies and by Humanities Iowa. The sessions are free and open to the public.
Takis Poulakos, chairman of the UI rhetoric department and co-director
of the symposium, said this discussion is particularly important at a time
when "humanities education is being critiqued from a number of angles."
By acknowledging the similar debate that took place centuries ago and studying
the outcome, today's humanities professors will be better equipped to address
those who question the value of a liberal arts education, Poulakos said.
David Depew, the other co-director of the symposium, said that inviting
some of the country's top scholars to join UI faculty in discussing some
of the most important educators of the classical period would certainly
result in a dynamic and thought-provoking event. "A good part of the
symposium will be devoted to considering how models of education in antiquity,
with their democratic assumptions and civic orientation, may still provide
some answers to our own questions today about the direction of liberal
arts education in our society," he said.
Josiah Ober, chairman of the Princeton University department of classics,
will give the keynote address for the symposium, which will address the
debate between philosophy and rhetoric as the basis for civic education
in ancient Greece. His presentation will be in the Senate Chamber of the
Old Capitol Thursday, Oct. 22 during the symposium's first evening session,
which runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Other outside experts who will speak during the daily sessions Friday,
Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24 include: Eve Browning Cole of the University
of Minnesota-Duluth philosophy department; Eugene Garver of the St. John's
University philosophy department; Robert Hariman of the Drake University
rhetoric and communication studies departments; David Konstan of the Brown
University classics department; Michael Leff of the Northwestern University
communication studies department; Kathryn Morgan of the University of California-Los
Angeles classics department; and John Poulakos of the University of Pittsburgh
University of Iowa participants include: Diana Cates, religion; Kenneth
Cmiel and Peter Green, history; David Depew, Ekaterina Haskins, and Michael
McGee, communication studies; Helena Dettmer, John Finamore, John Garcia,
and Robert Ketterer, classics; Dennis Moore and Takis Poulakos, rhetoric;
and Thomas Williams, philosophy.
In addition to the Obermann Center and Humanities Iowa, the UI departments
of classics, communication studies, rhetoric, and philosophy and the Project
on Rhetoric of Inquiry are supporting this humanities symposium.
For more information or for a schedule of symposium events, contact
the UI rhetoric department (319) 335-0178.