From the Director: Changes are ahead for the CVEC web page!

Our software is aging, and soon the WordPress platform will no longer support it. Therefore, we are working with a consultant to design and implement a substantial upgrade. While the website has served the organization well as a means of communicating course, enrollment, archival, and administrative information, the site could do more for us. Future features could include online registration and payment; CVEC-housed email addresses and passwords; easier navigation among categories; and “responsive design,” a means of programming the site for readability on a range of devices.

As we explore the possibilities and consider the costs, we want to hear from our members and friends. What do you like or dislike about the website? If you could ask for improvements, what matters most to you? If you are worried about, say, online registration with an internal login and password, would you want the Elder Collegium to maintain a paper process? Does the current site serve you as you explore educational opportunities as well as participation on the Board and committees? What else?

Please send your comments and suggestions to me via the CONTACT US link on the current site. I look forward to your ideas.

Meanwhile one small change is in the works: As of this term, the “Newsletter” button on the home page will no longer bring you to a full copy of this newsletter. Course descriptions, class schedule, and registration form are already linked separately. The “news” button will lead you to pp. 1 and 8 only.

~ Carol Rutz


Liberal Arts for All Times and All Ages

One of my favorite approaches to teaching first-year college students was to present the seven liberal arts:  the Trivium (rhetoric, dialectic, logic) and the Quadrivium (astronomy, music, geometry, arithmetic). These categories, formulated in the European Middle Ages, provide a core for educational endeavors that has been adapted—and sometimes abandoned—ever since. My students initially found them limited—what about history, philosophy, sciences, languages? Not to mention economics, political science, artificial intelligence, cybernetics, and more. Their skepticism was understandable, yet they were willing to look closely at the ancient configuration and investigate how those seven categories are delivered in a liberal arts education such as the one they were just beginning.

As students researched their chosen academic departments, using the liberal arts as a focus, each began to uncover the fundamentals of a college education. They read the catalog and admissions materials, talked with professors in the department, asked student majors about their experience, examined the department websites, consulted the college archives for records over the college’s history, and perused photographs, correspondence, and more. A combination of print and digital reading plus oral history provided a rich context for their application of the liberal arts to a specific disciplinary department.

Students found that the reasoning-based features of the Trivium were the easiest ones to spot in, say, a geology department, where observation, description, and argument were primary, with features of the Quadrivium, such as geometry and arithmetic, in play as well. However, similar insights were exposed in a wide range of disciplines as well as interdisciplinary programs, such as environmental studies or American studies.

Each student presented findings to the class, inviting every student in the class to benefit from their research. As the academic advisor for the students who took this fall seminar, I benefited from their earned knowledge about the curriculum: Advising was a snap.

The Cannon Valley Elder Collegium continues to celebrate and promote the liberal arts as manifest in the courses our Curriculum Committee considers, collects, and presents to the Board. As you review the offerings for Winter 2020, please note the legacy of the Trivium and Quadrivium in the CVEC curriculum—and enjoy!