Volume 93, Issue 33

Thursday, October 28, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Those who forget the past...

Editorial Cartoon

Those who forget the past...

A controversy ensued recently when Carleton University publicly ran an ad campaign which included the slogan "Carleton University: for an education that's about tomorrow, not yesterday." A slight furor erupted within the university's history faculty, who felt the slogan was an inadvertent slight on historical and classical studies.

Although Carleton' administration ultimately recognized the error and pulled the slogan off the airwaves, this line of thinking hints at a trend which has recently started to become more popular among universities and the government.

This mindset implies that success in the future is dependent purely upon scientific and technological schooling. While there's no disputing that computers, science and other forms of technology will play a major role in our future, there's a looming danger which comes with this gradual shift of educational priorities.

The amount of importance attributed to these fields of study will undoubtedly come at the cost of more traditional knowledge. A growing disposition towards more "modern" topics could spell trouble for subjects such as history and classical studies.

Although it would be a stretch to suggest these subjects are in danger of becoming obsolete, there is a legitimate concern that they may take a backseat in the future education of an average university student. While nobody is disputing the relevance of any emerging fields of study, it is important to maintain a sense of balance in doing so.

Classical studies, history and arts have the ability to imbue a student with a unique perspective which cannot be obtained from any other faculty. It is our responsibility to make sure these programs don't have their funding and resources diverted for the sake of the growth of others.

In order to contribute positively to the future, it is first necessary for a student to obtain some sort of perspective on modern day times. It is impossible to speculate on the future without first knowing the patterns of the past. A working understanding of our history and how we arrived at our current position can only strengthen our hopes for the future. Moreover, a knowledge of past paradigms and shifts of logic can contribute greatly to one's ability to handle present day concerns.

It is perfectly valid to conceive of a university which places an appropriate emphasis on the past and the present, but we may have to re-work our priorities a little bit in order to get there.

If we want to promote the emergence of a well-rounded and well-learned society in the future, it's absolutely crucial we continue to foster these qualities in our universities.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999