What is the purpose of college? How should you spend your time while you are here? What roles do institutions of higher education play in our society and what kind of society are they helping to build? Are they succeeding or failing, and for whom? This course considers the variety of purposes with which individuals and institutions might approach the project of higher education: as individual self-cultivation, professional development and credentialing, or training in practices of citizenship, to name a few. Our readings draw from philosophy, political theory, sociology, and educational theory and include the works of Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, Danielle Allen, bell hooks, Paulo Freire, and Tressie McMillan Cottom. This course asks you to think critically and imaginatively about the meaning of your own time spent in this institution and then to contextualize your experience – to understand the diverse roles which institutions of higher education have played in American society, their various purposes, functions, and points of access.