Saturday, March 24, 2012


Who you are, where are you headed in your life, and what will become of you much depend on how you regard the future, how you imagine the frontiers of human progress—although right now as a college undergraduate that may seem absurd to you.

It may seem absurd that something so large and vague as “the future” would have any notable effect on your day-to-day doings as a “college kid,” or even on your long-range plans, if you have any.  Your concerns are mostly immediate, here and now and tomorrow, with maybe a worry about what major or minor to choose, and a slight anxiety about what career you might enter or what post-graduate schooling you might pursue.

Even so, I would say that the kind of vision you imagine of what the world you will enter as a young adult looks like will make a difference in how you will live.  How hospitable will it be?  How dangerous?  What responsibility should you take as a citizen of the world for deciding on the best perspectives, principles and policies to shape our governing bodies, as well as to guide your private life and career?

One of Rollins’ stated goals is to prepare you for “responsible citizenship,” which is a rationale for my devising a course called “Writing about Human Frontiers.”  It is our responsibility to help decide what values and ideals should underlie the policies and practices we devise to form and transform the world we live in, recognizing now ever more clearly the stressful impact that our burgeoning species imposes in Earth’s ecosystems.

Our population is exploding, our technologies are advancing exponentially, and yet our global wisdom quotient lags dangerously behind the pressures humanity imposes on our planet.  It’s time to wake ourselves up to our perilous predicament and learn to avert the impending breakdown of Earth’s vital systems—and rather break through to the kind of sanity, simplicity and sustainability that would characterize us as a mature and wise species who act as good stewards to our Mother Earth.

So, how do you fit into this picture?  How are you going to shape your life course to aid the breakthrough effort, rather than abet the breakdown now in progress?  Where do you think your own latent talents may serve and save our planet from further degradation?  Think about that.

Think and write an essay in which you try to connect your interests, concerns and talents to problems and issues in the world that need our attention ad that call for our intelligent and capable commitment to be resolved.  More specifically, as a college student, what do you feel most strongly called to learn about and to develop capabilities in that might be useful to the world’s needs?