david brooks

Intellectual Virtues and Graduate Attributes

What intellectual habits do universities promote? We train students to become experts in various subjects, to earn the intellectual autonomy we earned in our time.

Is it an over-reach to say that we train students in intellectual virtues?

Virtue’s a loaded term, loaded with blustery moral overtones. I use it in the sense that David Brooks gives it. He takes it (from a 2007 book) to mean an impassioned curiosity and openness to new knowledge, tempered by the intellectual courage of your convictions: a steadiness of principle, unswayed by the whims of fashion, tempered by a humility that recognizes the value of new information. (I’m paraphrasing.) He also describes the virtues of autonomy and generosity.

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