Why is it important to talk to college students about purpose and values?
The colleges and universities represented in the Project on Purpose and Values in Education (PAVE) all focus on liberal education for traditional age college students. These institutions share a common commitment to the education of the whole person - intellectually, aesthetically, emotionally, and socially. The educational experience at these institutions is aimed at rigorous intellectual development but also character development, particularly the nurturing of a thoughtful and reflective stance toward the problems and challenges we face as individuals and as a society.
We live in an age where there is much specialization and compartmentalization of knowledge. While this has resulted in great progress in the accumulation of knowledge, we have also seen a loss of a sense of overall purpose and meaning for our students. Students at selective colleges and universities have been on treadmills of achievement. They have mastered the art of classroom effectiveness but often lack inner purpose and an appreciation of the “big picture.” Too many of them are in pursuit of credentials and extrinsic measures of success.
Students, now more than ever, need opportunities to reflect on their experience and their learning. They need experiences inside and outside the classroom to help them integrate the intellectual, emotional, and experiential dimensions of their lives. Many colleges are doing creative and effective programs to assist students in the journey to educated and committed adulthood. Furthermore, we have learned that students find these interventions pivotal in their development and report deep appreciation.
This project seeks to collect and disseminate the finding from those institutions that have undertaken an intentional and deliberate approach to fostering reflection on values and purpose.