President Laurent Boetsch and Programme Directors Peter Hajnal and Thomas Norgaard officially welcomed students and faculty to ECLA’s fourth academic year on Friday, October 7th. Continuing a tradition that began last year, the first week of class is designed to introduce students to the idea of ‘liberal learning.’ Students gained an awareness of the issues surfacing in modern debates about liberal education through their weekend reading assignment. This will inform their discussion during today’s plenary session on liberal arts as well as further debates throughout the academic year. The introductory week reminds students and faculty that ECLA is a school in the process of becoming and to be studying and teaching at ECLA means thinking about the shape and purpose of liberal education.
The week is especially relevant for AY students who will study Greek philosophy, literature, and art, produced or compiled in Athens during a period when Athens became ‘the school of Greece.’ This was a period of intense debate about education and the AY core will grapple with the same fundamental questions that faced the ancient Greeks and that are still important in these modern times. Students and faculty will take their bearings from topics raised in Plato’s Republic throughout the term.