As summer comes to a close, our attention naturally shifts from beaches and mountain retreats to our other vast spaces of reflection and spiritual, if not intellectual, enrichment: Our nation’s great universities. Yes, school’s back, a time when our nation’s youth naturally turn to the three great academic traditions: Football, parties, and Shakespeare.
Ok, maybe only one is actually an academic tradition, but that’s the one we focus on today. For those taking kids to college — or any of us who remember the speeches our parents gave — we know the mantra: Study hard now if you want to be successful later.
Which raises a natural question: Is that true? As we live our lives in the corporate or entrepreneurial world, which lessons matter now? Most specifically: What can the Letters and Arts that we learned in college yesterday — from History to Philosophy, Literature to Poli Sci —teach us about being successful in business today? Can the Arts help explain a very current question: why do we work?
Few are more qualified to speak to the topic than John McGreevy, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at the University of Notre Dame. McGreevy teaches courses in American political history and American religious history, as well as the graduate reading course on the twentieth century United States. He has received numerous fellowships, written many dozens of articles and reviews, and published two books with another on the way.