Like no other time in history, Americans need to understand and empathize with persons of different cultures. In her book “Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education,” educator Martha Nussbaum supports an approach to liberal education she contends would make students “citizens of the world” who can think critically for themselves while being open to others’ perspectives.
Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund distinguished service professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, has earned the 2002 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education. The $200,000 award is one of the largest in the field of education.
In “Cultivating Humanity,” Nussbaum argues that in order for students to achieve true world citizenship and the skills necessary to maintain democratic principles in the nation’s multicultural society, universities must offer a liberal education that doesn’t focus only on what is important in the American tradition. They also should offer studies of other cultures and ways of thinking that enable critical examination of the status quo.
Nussbaum uses examples she gathered in her study of colleges and universities across the country to show how non-traditional areas of study – including courses on non-Western cultures, African-American studies, women studies and the study of human sexuality – have been successfully integrated into an undergraduate liberal education.
She also warns that the popularly held, narrow view of higher education as job training could overshadow the need to develop a nation of rational thinkers who must learn to participate in addressing the common problems faced throughout the world.
About Martha Nussbaum
Martha Craven Nussbaum, Ernst Freund distinguished service professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, has had an illustrious career as an educator.
Nussbaum received her bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1969 and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in classical philology from Harvard University in 1971 and 1975, respectively. She also served as an honorary member of the Senior Common Room at St. Hugh’s College at Oxford University from 1973-1974.
Upon graduation from Harvard, Nussbaum served for eight years as a member of that university’s faculty. In the years that followed, she taught at Brown University; served as research advisor to the World Institute for Development Economics Research in Helsinki, which is a division of the United Nations University; and was a visiting professor and scholar at Stanford University, University of Chicago, Oxford University, and schools in England, France and Norway.
She joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1995, where she earned her current title in 1999. She’s appointed in the university’s law school, the philosophy department and the divinity school. She also is an associate in the classics department, an affiliate of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies and a member of the board of the Center for Gender Studies.
Nussbaum has written numerous books on philosophical issues, including “Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature,” “For Love of Country: A Debate on Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” “Sex and Social Justice” and “Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach.” Her books and articles have been translated for publication in Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, among other nations.
Nussbaum’s work has earned her numerous accolades in many professional circles. Her Grawemeyer Award-winning book, “Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education,” also won the 1998 Frederic W. Ness Book Award of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Her book “Sex and Social Justice” earned the 2000 North American Society for Social Philosophy Book Award. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988 and was president of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association in 2000. She also received a lifetime appointment as honorary fellow at St. Anne’s College at Oxford University in 1998 and the NYU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000. Most recently, she received the University of Chicago’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in 2001. She has received 15 honorary degrees from colleges and universities around the world.
Nussbaum serves on the editorial boards of several philosophical and literary journals and has been a board member of the American Council of Learned Societies. She was a faculty board member for the University of Chicago Press and has served as president of the central division of the American Philosophical Association, the American Society for Legal and Social Philosophy and the American Society for Value Inquiry.