From the Hosts

We are pleased to announce a conference on “The Future of the Liberal Arts College in America and its Leadership Role in Education around the World” sponsored by Lafayette College and Swarthmore College with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The objective of the forum, to be held at Lafayette College April 9-11, 2012, is to provide a thoughtful context for  thinking together about those issues that are emerging as game-changers for us all. Whereas we recognize that all institutions — public and private, large and small — will face comparable challenges, it is our view that, by virtue of their scale and their focused mission, liberal arts colleges are especially well-positioned to lead in developing new approaches for an uncertain future. We want to support the development of new ideas, bold proposals, and shared learning as we assess the state of our collective enterprise and, in so doing, establish a more informed platform for future leadership and decision-making during a time of unprecedented change.

We have invited creative thinkers, many of whom are new voices among us, to prepare papers on specific issues — both as a way of framing the salient questions and in offering a perspective on how we might begin to resolve them as we develop an informed vision for the future.

Our goals for the conference are three-fold:

  1. To identify and analyze key environmental factors and internal drivers that affect the mission and sustainability of residential liberal arts colleges;
  2. To discover what existing pilots and/or best practices hold promise for future development; and
  3. To explore new narratives and models of the liberal arts to guide undergraduate education in the 21st century.


Rebecca S. Chopp
Swarthmore College

Daniel H. Weiss
Lafayette College