The Collaboratory for Liberal Learning
has four worksites. On this one, we work to develop liberal learning in the digital commons. Why?
As persons, we cultivate liberal learning because we think and act freely, autonomously, in a complex, constraining world and we bear the consequences of our efforts. In such a situation, we must exercise our judgment. We cultivate liberal learning to inform and strengthen our judgment as we think and act independently, living with others in a world of force and fact.
Liberal learning has a long history, which we here prize. But here we engage in questioning, examining, and voicing it anew because we must cultivate and exercise our judgment in a challenging juncture. We have grown up in a highly formalized, structured ethos. In almost all walks of life, practitioners study and promulgate best practices, codes control, well-reasoned advice abounds, and far too often we think and speak of ourselves in the passive voice. Possibly, in a well-regulated environment, we could live safely and comfortably by rarely exercising our judgment, uncertain what to expect.
Yet, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, we have destabilized the ecology of human interaction within which we live. New media do not substitute something entirely new for the world we have lost, and old media do not continue as always, warm and stable in use and consequence. True, people have always experienced their lifeworld as a kaleidoscope of change—hence liberal learning has had staying power. Yet, we might judge, now in the longue durée in which we live, that the kaleidoscope is not gently turning, but taking a sudden shake with all the colors rearranged. The horizon of expectation shortens, events turn unpredictable, do I really know what to think or do? How can and should we now cultivate our judgment, personal and collective, so that we all can live well in our emerging world of force and fact? That's a question for everyone, everywhere. Join us in concentrating on it.
Activities will take place there to facilitate the self-organizing interactions among commoners, the contributing participants in the Collaboratory, as they develop all the web sites. In addition, more substantively, the commoners and sojourners will advance ongoing research, scholarship, and criticism specifically concerning the idea and practice of liberal learning.