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On My Mind: Celebrating the Liberal Arts

By Susan Altman
Chair, Liberal Arts Festival Committee

April was Liberal Arts Month at Middlesex County College! In the Renaissance, the term "Renaissance Man" described a person who was well educated and excelled in a variety of subjects. In the tradition of the Renaissance, the liberal arts provide students with a solid foundation in many fields of study and set the stage for a lifetime of intellectual curiosity and development. A liberal arts education broadens your perspectives and introduces you to many different ways of thinking. Developing broad habits of the mind, critical thinking, strong communication and creative problem solving skills all prepare students for success in their personal and professional lives. Whatever field a student may choose, a strong liberal arts education helps him or her succeed.

Traditionally, the liberal arts include art, literature, philosophy, language, politics, history, math and the sciences. The Liberal Arts Festival at Middlesex County College was started by the Division of Social Sciences and Humanities in 2001 to help bring attention to the importance of a liberal arts education and showcase the many talented students and faculty at MCC. Its early success helped establish the festival as an annual event.

This year's liberal arts festival, "The Power to Be!" continues the tradition and is the largest festival to date. With over 41 events, the festival includes lectures, poetry readings, music, dance, theatre, history, art exhibitions, and international culture. A highlight of every festival is the keynote address. This year, Dr. Michael Kimmel, one of the world's leading researchers on men and masculinity, delivered an engrossing talk entitled "Mars and Venus – or Planet Earth: Men and Women in a New Millennium." It was a thought provoking and intellectually stimulating presentation enjoyed by a packed house in the Performing Arts Center.

The festival has always been student centered, and this year includes many exciting opportunities for student involvement. The inaugural event was the Honors Program Talent Showcase. Participating honors students shared their work and creativity with the College community. Students were involved in many other events as well.

The New Student Works Festival showcased student written plays. The First Annual MCC Speech Competition offered a $1,000 prize to the student with the best persuasive speech. The annual exhibitions of the Visual and Media Arts students are also much anticipated by the College community. A competition to design the festival logo, poster and t-shirt was held and Renina Powell, a Media Arts student, created the winning logo. Even faculty members displayed their many "non-academic" talents during the Faculty Talent Showcase.

There were many other interesting events at this year's festival. They were intellectually stimulating, preparing us for the world at large and speaking to our collective humanity.