Student Life

Aims of Education

Every year since 1961, a University of Chicago faculty member has been invited to address students in the College regarding their view on the aims of a liberal education. In 1962 the Aims of Education Address was added to Orientation Week and officially became a tradition for incoming students. The address encourages students to reflect on the purpose and definition of education as they embark upon their collegiate years.

In recent years, the address has been followed by colloquia in the residential College Houses led by faculty members, enabling students to reflect in community upon the speaker’s views, share opinions, and develop their own theories about the aims of education and their role in society. The Aims of Education Address provides a collective moment for students entering the College during which they can think about the broader aspects of education, before becoming fully immersed in its details as classes begin.

Past Speakers

  • 1989 - Samuel Hellman, A.N. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor of the Division of Biological Sciences and Pritzker School of Medicine; Vice President of the University of Chicago Medical Center from 1998-1993; “Clinician, Investigator, Educator, Administrator”
  • 1988 - Daniel Garber, Lawrence Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy and the College from 1975-2002
  • 1987 - Hanna H. Gray, President of the University from 1978-1993; Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor of History and the College
  • 1986 - Walter E. Massey, Professor of Physics, Vice President of Research from 1979-1991
  • 1985 - Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School; Professor of South Asian Language & Civilizations, Committee on Social Thought, and the College; “Inside and Outside the Mouth of God: The Boundary Between Myth and Reality
  • 1984 - Philip B. Kurland, William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Service Professor of Law and the College
  • 1983 - Edward W. Rosenheim, David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor in English Language and Literature
  • 1982 - Jonathan Z. Smith, Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor of the Humanities; Professor of the Committee on the Ancient Mediterranean World, the Committee on the History of Culture, and the College
  • 1981 - Leon R. Kass, Addie Clark Harding Professor of Social Thought and in the College
  • 1980 - Ralph W. Nicholas, William Rainey Harper Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences in the College
  • 1979 - Joseph Cropsey, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Political Science and in the College
  • 1978 - Richard P. Taub, Paul Klapper Professor in the Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology, Chair of the Department of Comparative Human Development
  • 1977 - Karl J. Weintraub, Thomas E. Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of History, in the Committee on Social Thought, the Committee on the History Culture, the Humanities Collegiate Division, and the College
  • 1976 - Ira A. Kipnis & Kenneth J. Northcott; Kipnis: Professor of the Social Sciences in the College, Northcott: Professor of Germanic Language & Literature, the Committees on Comparative Studies in Literature, General Studies in the Humanities, and the College
  • 1975 - Nancy P. Helmbold & Peter O. Vandervoort; Helmbold: Professor of Classical Languages & Literature, New Testament & Early Christian Literature, and the College, Vandervoort: Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College
  • 1974 - James M. Redfield, Edward Olson Distinguished Service Professor of Classics and Professor in the Committee of Social Thought
  • 1973 - Norman H. Nachtrieb, Professor of Chemistry; “Toward Understanding”
  • 1972 - Arnold W. Ravin, Master of the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division; Associate Dean of the College; Associate Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences & the Pritzker School of Medicine; Professor of Biology, the Committee on Evolutionary Biology, the Committee on Conceptual Foundation of Sciences; Research Associate Professor of the Department of Microbiology; “The Aims of Education and the Place of Science in the College Curriculum”
  • 1971 - Meyer W. Isenberg, Senior Adviser in the Humanities Collegiate Division and Professor of Humanities
  • 1970 - Wayne C. Booth, George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English Language & Literature, Committee on the Analysis of Ideas & Methods, and the College; “What’s Supposed To Be Going On Here?”
  • 1969 - Warner A. Wick, Professor of Philosophy, Dean of Students
  • 1968 - James M. Redfield, Edward Olson Distinguished Service Professor of Classics and Professor in the Committee of Social Thought; “The Community of Theory”
  • 1967 - Edward H. Levi, President of the University of Chicago, 1968-1975, Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor of the Law School, the Committee on Social Thought, and the College; “The Shape, Process and Purpose of the University of Chicago”
  • 1966 - Wayne C. Booth, George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English Language & Literature, Committee on the Analysis of Ideas & Methods, and the College; “Useful and Useless Education: New Letters of Screwtape”
  • 1965 - Wayne C. Booth, George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English Language & Literature, Committee on the Analysis of Ideas & Methods, and the College
  • 1964 - Sylvain Bromberger, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and the Physical Sciences in the College
  • 1963 - Karl J. Weintraub, Thomas E. Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of History, in the Committee on Social Thought, the Committee on the History Culture, the Humanities Collegiate Division, and the College
  • 1962 - Christian Mackauer, William Rainey Harper Professor of History
  • 1961 - Aaron J. Brumbaugh, Clarence Faust, & Joseph Schwab; Brumbaugh & Faust: Former Deans of the College, Schwab: William Rainey Harper Professor of Biology and of Education; “How to Shop in a Cafeteria”