Lake Erie College to develop course called “On Human Freedom”

Academics,

Expanding on its mission to provide students with a highly personalized liberal arts education, Lake Erie College has announced the creation of a course called “On Human Freedom.” This initiative was made possible by a $6,900 grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, a well-known supporter of higher education initiatives throughout the United States.

Set to launch in the spring of the 2017-2018 academic year, “On Human Freedom” will add to the curriculum in Lake Erie College’s Business and Entrepreneurship Learning Community, one of five academic interest-based groups designed for first-year students.

Currently, students in the Business and Entrepreneurship Learning Community take HU125, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” an exploration of the concept of human happiness and wellbeing. Taught each fall by Dr. Bob Trebar, dean of the School of Business and professor of business administration, HU 125 and its associated co-curricular activities consider the concept of happiness from the perspectives of philosophy, economics, psychology and neuroscience. The course fulfills LEC’s “critical thinking” general education requirement and has been well received, with enrollment growing from 12 students in 2013 to 24 in 2016.

To date, students who have completed HU 125 have had no opportunity to continue to explore related subject matter and leverage their experiences beyond their first semester. Dr. Trebar sought out funding for the development of a new course as a way to provide such an opportunity, allowing students who have been highly engaged and energized to share their excitement with peers and the College community as a whole.

Building off the concepts introduced in “The Pursuit of Happiness,” “On Human Freedom” will explore the nature of individual freedom and liberty, the relationship between freedom and individual and societal wellbeing, and the role of the state and private actors in protecting freedom and fostering the wellbeing of citizens.

“Just like the ideas of happiness or justice, freedom can mean many things to different people,” said Dr. Trebar, “but for all of us, the concept lies at the foundation of being able to achieve our goals and actualize our ambitions. This course will provide a platform for students to not just hone critical thinking skills but to examine a theme that runs throughout human history.”

In addition to course lectures, “On Human Freedom” will incorporate a series of guest lectures open to all students, faculty, staff and the public. According to Dr. Trebar, the guest speakers will likely represent diverse scholarly backgrounds and have published works discussing freedom on an individual or societal basis. They will be able to discuss how individuals have capitalized on freedom in their own lives, thus showing students how freedom is one foundation upon which one can lead a life of significance. The guest speakers will also conduct private sessions with the students in “On Human Freedom.”

In addition to its guest lecture series component, “On Human Freedom” will help to raise the visibility of the College’s Business and Entrepreneurship Learning Community by way of a new scholarship program. Each year, four incoming students who are committed to the subject matter and are willing to devote time to organize associated co-curricular events will be awarded ongoing scholarships as “Koch Scholars.”

Koch Scholars will be selected competitively upon admission to LEC from incoming students with an interest in the Business and Entrepreneurship Learning Community. Candidates will have to show a history of engagement in activities related to entrepreneurship and must write a competitive essay on the role of freedom in fostering the wellbeing of individuals and society in order to be considered.

Recipients of the scholarships must successfully complete “The Pursuit of Happiness,” maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, and participate in arranging at least one of the annual guest speaker events. Successful completion of “On Human Freedom” and continued participation in the Business and Entrepreneurship Learning Community is required for receipt of the scholarship.

“On Human Freedom” will be offered at Lake Erie College every spring semester starting in 2018. For more information on this new initiative, contact Dr. Trebar at rtrebar@lec.edu.

The Charles Koch Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to support students and scholars who are focused on improving people’s lives. More information is available at www.charleskochfoundation.org/.

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