Reflections at the end of the degree program
Stephen F. Gambescia, a recent graduate of Tiffin University’s Master of Humanities program, was kind enough to record for us the talk he gave before an audience of fellow graduate students, faculty, friends, and family there entitled “Reflections on Formal Study in the Humanities.” For ease of use, we have divided the audio into five parts, each one introduced briefly here with the audio link:
Part 1. Graduate students side-step the usual “What are you going to do with this degree?” question with the help of other good questions, such as “What is man?” “What is my relationship to the world?” “Who am I?” Guest appearance by Niccolo Machiavelli!
Part 2. How people responded on the commuter train when the author was seen reading B. F. Skinner, St. Thomas More, or Karl Marx. The diversity of graduate students in the program; the diversity of reading; the diversity of connections to the world around us.
Part 3. Part of the challenge in our courses was to find a fresh thing to say about touchstone works from the ages. At the same time, these works when read closely illuminated so much of contemporary life.
Part 4. Yet the question of vocation and practicality stayed with us. We graduate with a sense that beauty and use are not alien to each other, and that the intellectual skills we practiced are the foundational skills of thinking and communicating.
Part 5. We found the sometimes lonely quests of many of the writers we read to be sobering at times, and felt a little of it in the solitude of our own studies. But in that solitude, as well as in the skeptical exchanges of our courses, we gained a new confidence for having thought about the enduring questions.
If your program has celebrated the values of graduate study in a lively public talk, we’d be pleased to have a chance to share the text or audio here.