Freshman Provocation to discuss value of education

To freshman Daniel Auza, the definition of a liberal arts education is getting a general variety of classes at a higher level. But in his experience, he said he doesn’t know too much about the value of this.

To address student uncertainty and build value in UW-Eau Claire’s approach, the College of Arts and Sciences is hosting the first Freshman Provocation at 7 p.m. tonight in Schofield Auditorium, said Michael Weil, associate dean of the college. All students are invited, but the event is targeted to freshmen, Weil said.

Auza will attend tonight’s event as a requirement for his English 110 class. He said he is looking forward to the presentation, even though he isn’t sure what to expect.

“I think it’s good that we have this kind of extra resource so we know more about why we are in school,” Auza said.

Weil said it is especially important for freshmen to understand the value of a liberal arts education. This way, he said, “they have the time to plan what they’re going to do and what they’re going to take.”

The four faculty speakers – Evan Weiher, professor of biology; April Bleske-Rechek, assistant professor of psychology; Jim Phillips, professor of chemistry; and Marty Wood, professor of English – will be addressing how their own liberal arts education has affected their careers and lives, Weil said.

Bleske-Rechek will be speaking on the relevance of critical thinking skills and hard work in life and in one’s career she said.

“I’ve always been told that to succeed you have to have two things – the abilities and the hard work,” Bleske-Rechek said.

Wood said he will be talking about the humanities and their value in life.

“In the real world, it’s hard for a lot of people to understand the usefulness of these areas,” he said, adding that all areas of the liberal arts degree overlap, which is what makes it valuable.

“(A liberal arts education) is more than just being able to seem like an educated individual,” Wood said. “It’s more about gaining insight into what it means to be human.”

Bleske-Rechek said when she attended her undergraduate at UW-Madison, the professors didn’t place much focus on the “because” of their liberal arts education.

This focus is different – and better – at Eau Claire, she said. Here, the faculty strives to help students get something out of a liberal arts education, she added.

And this provocation is one tool to help people realize this value, she said.

“I think the content and the theme is important for everybody.”