The liberal arts and the civic mission of higher education are under attack in this time of economic crisis and political polarization. But we can proudly and forthrightly make the case for the civic mission of higher education. The purpose of the liberal arts is to prepare people for responsible citizenship, and the best forms of civic engagement are intellectually challenging; they are the liberal arts in action. Research shows that civic education at the college level makes people into better workers. And engaged universities address many serious public problems, including unemployment, that matter to citizens and policy makers. This article was originally delivered as a speech at the 2013 American Democracy Project and Democracy Commitment Meeting in Denver, June 7, 2013.

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