Monday, August 25, 2014

What is our purpose? What are we working for?

As we start a new academic year, it's hard to imagine a better mission statement than these concluding words from Gunnar Myrdal's first volume of An American Dilemma...

"Social study is concerned with explaining why all these potentially and intentionally good people so often make life a hell for themselves and each other when they live together, whether in a family, a community, a nation or a world...

The rationalism and moralism which is the driving force behind social study, whether we admit it or not, is the faith that institutions can be improved and strengthened and that people are good enough to live a happier life.

With all we know today there should be the possibility to build a nation and a world where people's propensities for sympathy and cooperation would not be so thwarted."

- Gunnar Myrdal, 1942, An American Dilemma