Should not we focus on training people to be good citizens than on punishing them when they fail to be good citizens?
A liberal arts education as capable of shaping citizens for the rights and responsibilities of political life is one of the founding principles for HTCS, and for it’s inspirational program, Columbia’s Core Curriculum. The Core is a set of courses, including Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization, that every undergraduate at the College has to take. Taking into account their many imperfections, these courses are grounded in the idea that, through encountering Plato and Aristotle, Nietzsche and DuBois, Wollstonecraft and Gandhi, students can be more thoughtful and effective in their pursuit of ethical and justice-focused lives. Of course, some of these texts, taught carelessly, do have frightening things to say about eugenics, infanticide, and the utter disenfranchisement of women and people thought to be “natural slaves.” And, in the centuries since the oldest of them was composed, they have been used (or abused) by later generations to make arguments justifying the subjugation of others.