Office of the President

Bylines Archive

Below are links to older bylines by Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth.

April 16, 2021 - The Washington Post
The Art of the Photograph; the Photograph as Art

“When Andy Grundberg wanted to take a photography course at Cornell University in the 1960s, he had to go to its agriculture school. It wasn’t long, however, before artists everywhere were exploring photography as a part of their creative practice, and by the 1980s, the medium was at the center of contemporary art and the ‘aesthetic driver’ of the most exciting work to be found in galleries and studios.” [ Read More ]

April 13, 2021 - Inside Higher Ed
Higher Education Must Stand Up for Voting Rights

Whatever our political allegiances, it is our duty as college and university leaders to combat shameful attempts to disenfranchise significant numbers of people.” [ Read More ]

March 21, 2021 - The Los Angeles Times
Forgiveness in an age of cancel culture

“I recently asked the undergrads in my class on virtue and vice to send me a brief note about a time when they either forgave someone in a meaningful way or found that they couldn’t. Their notes spoke of love, sorrow, finding a way—or not—to maintain relationships in the wake of wrongs. Nobody mentioned cancelling anybody.” [ Read More ]

March 18, 2021 - Inside Higher Ed
A Focus on Critical Feeling

“We need critical feeling -- practiced emotional alternatives to the satisfactions of outrage. Outrage today is braided together with self-absorption, with the tendency to intensify group identification by finding outsiders one can detest.” [ Read More ]

January 18, 2021 - Inside Higher Ed
Everything Won't Be Different

"In higher education, some things will be different post-pandemic, especially if we can hold on to what we’ve learned over the past year," President Roth writes in this op-ed, focused on lessons from the pandemic on inequality, connection, and compassion. [ Read More ]

January 7, 2021 - Inside Higher Ed
Idiot Wind

President Roth responds to riots at the U.S. Capitol, and calls on higher ed to "recommit to encouraging the kind of democratic practice that is fully in sync with the goals of liberal education: habits of discussion, compromise, collective aspiration and care for the vulnerable."  [ Read More ]

January 4, 2021 - Tablet Magazine
The Wanderers

“A stranger arrives in an unknown city after a long voyage.” So begins Daniel Mendelsohn’s Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fatehis study of three disparate writers who shared a commitment to mining literary traditions even as they redefined the genres in which they worked.” [ Read More ]

November 15, 2020 - Los Angeles Review of Books
De Melancholia

President Roth reviews "The Anatomy of Grief" by Dorothy P. Holinger, a "book for the bereaved" offering scientific explanations of what is happening in their brains along with stories of those learning to manage grief. [ Read More ]

October 2, 2020 - The Washington Post
Polymaths want to know everything — but ‘everything’ isn’t what it used to be

President Roth reviews "The Polymath: A Cultural History from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag" by Peter Burke.  [ Read More ]

September 30, 2020 - The Brainwaves Video Anthology TV
Michael S. Roth – Intellectual Diversity in Dangerous Times

President Roth discusses the importance of intellectual diversity on college campuses. Recognizing the progressive bias that dominates many elite colleges and universities, he advocates for finding ways to include conservative points of view on enduring questions. President Roth also spoke about two of his professors at Wesleyan who had an enormous impact on his life. [ Read More ]

September 29, 2020 - Marketplace Radio
How Some Colleges Are Trying to Hold Off Another Pandemic Shutdown in the Fall

President Roth is interviewed about Wesleyan's return to in-person learning this fall and its success thus far in preventing the spread of COVID. [ Read More ]

September 19, 2020 - The New York Times
Colleges, Conservatives and the Kakistocracy

"In higher education, there is no contradiction between standing up to the fascist tendencies of racist authoritarianism and working for greater intellectual diversity," writes President Roth in this op-ed. "In both cases, we are defending the opportunity to learn through inquiry and discussion." [ Read More ]

September 10, 2020 - Inside Higher Ed
What's a Safe Enough Space on Campuses Now?

In this op-ed, President Roth makes the case that "bringing students back to properly run campuses -- with frequent testing and careful housing and dining protocols -- may well be healthier than leaving these young people to their own devices and their hometown gathering (and watering) places." [ Read More ]

August 13, 2020 - Back to Biz with Katie and Boz Radio
University Presidents on the Future of Education

President Roth and the University of Virginia President Jim Ryan talk about plans for the fall, and how the pandemic, and this moment of racial unrest, could change the higher education system for good. 

[ Read More ]

August 4, 2020 - The Nation
Violence Is Donald Trump's Mother Tongue

President Roth writes that Trump's embrace of violence aims to promulgate fear and distract the public from "his inability to articulate a vision for the country at a time of moral reckoning, economic disruption, and international instability." [ Read More ]

July 18, 2020 - POLITICO
Will the Pandemic Blow Up College in America?

In this op-ed, President Roth predicts that on-campus higher education will survive the pandemic, despite the predictions of many futurists, but that this moment is helping to clarify ways in which colleges should change. [ Read More ]

June 29, 2020 - Inside Higher Ed
Higher Education Needs Antifascism Now

President Roth argues that for higher education, "There is no neutrality with respect to the resurgent populist authoritarianism one sees in this country and in so many others." [ Read More ]

June 11, 2020 - The Quarantine Tapes Radio
The Quarantine Tapes 056: Michael Roth

President Roth speaks about his experience with distance teaching and learning for this podcast series chronicling shifting paradigms in the age of social distancing. "The campus as a place of amplifying learning, making it more resonant for the students, I think has become much more visible." [ Read More ]

June 4, 2020 - Los Angeles Times
Op-Ed: How fear makes Americans susceptible to Trump’s magical thinking

“Magical thinkers are impatient and go with their gut. And in the early days of the pandemic, Trump happily declared that the coronavirus would just disappear like miracle one day.” [ Read More ]

May 27, 2020 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Beware the Doyens of Disruption

President Roth responds to predictions that Covid-19 is going to "change everything" in higher education with a reminder of "the desire of bright young people from all over the world for an on-campus education remains strong...It’s because the connectivity among people and practices that takes place in person intensifies the learning experience." [ Read More ]

May 15, 2020 - The Way We Live Now Radio
Episode 22: Michael

President Roth reflects on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in this interview by Dani Shapiro P '22. [ Read More ]

May 12, 2020 - HxA Podcast Radio
Michael Roth, Safe Enough Spaces

President Roth is interviewed about his book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist's Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses. Heterodox Academy recently chose Safe Enough Spaces as the subject for its first ever book club. [ Read More ]

April 27, 2020 - The Hechinger Report
When it comes to liberal-arts education, online learning changes only the tools

Responding to predictions about how the pandemic will change higher education, President Roth argues, "We are unlikely to see a massive migration away from campuses as a result of more students and teachers having 'discovered' distance learning. But professors are likely to use a wider array of digital tools so as to make their in-person teaching on campus as compelling as possible." [ Read More ]

March 30, 2020 - Inside Higher Ed
Contagious Civic Engagement

President Roth calls for a “virtuous contagion” to stimulate voting and other forms of civic engagement among young people, and writes about how this can still be possible at a time of social distancing.  [ Read More ]

March 27, 2020 - The New York Review of Books
Pandemic Journal

President Roth offers a snapshot of life on Wesleyan's campus as Covid-19 crisis escalated and a decision was made to suspend in-person instruction. [ Read More ]

February 6, 2020 - Los Angeles Review of Books
"We Need More Vigorous Debate": A Conversation with Michael S. Roth

President Roth is interviewed in connection with his latest book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses. He discusses his career path from intellectual historian to university administrator and professor, and offers his unique perspective on debates surrounding freedom of speech and political correctness. [ Read More ]

January 9, 2020 - The Washington Post
As Scholars Tried to Flee the Nazis, U.S. Universities Closed Their Doors

President Roth reviews Laurel Leff's new book, Well Worth Saving, on how academic refugees from Nazi Europe struggled to find safety in the American university system. [ Read More ]

December 24, 2019 - The Washington Post
How One College Is Helping Students Get Engaged in Elections — and, No, It's Not Political

President Roth writes about the Wesleyan Engage 2020 Initiative (E2020), through which Wesleyan is supporting student involvement in the public sphere. [ Read More ]

December 19, 2019 - Literary Hub
How Should We Define Free Speech at Universities?

President Roth discusses Safe Enough Spaces with Roxanne Coady, founder of RJ Julia Booksellers. The podcast is adapted from a public discussion between the two held at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Sept. 26. [ Read More ]

November 23, 2019 - CNN
What the 'Woke Student' and the 'Welfare Queen' Have in Common

"Every age seems to need a bogeyman, some negative image against which good people measure themselves," begins this op-ed by President Roth, in which he attempts to set the record straight with respect to widespread negative perceptions of the "politically correct, 'woke' college student." [ Read More ]

November 11, 2019 - Hebrew Union College's College Commons Podcast Radio
Michael S. Roth: "Safe" Spaces?

President Roth discusses the place of religious faith in the classroom in connection with his book, Safe Enough Spaces. [ Read More ]

October 3, 2019 - Hartford Courant
Wesleyan President Michael Roth Argues for 'Safe Enough Spaces' on College Campuses in New Book

In this interview, President Roth discusses political correctness, parochialism, and why angry debate is better than no debate at all. [ Read More ]

October 2, 2019 - Yale University Press Blog
Political Correctness: Are the Kids on Campus Alright?

In this blog post, President Roth provides a brief history of "political correctness," and calls upon students, faculty and citizens alike to "avoid falling into the tired tropes of both callout culture and accusations of political correctness." [ Read More ]

September 19, 2019 - Tablet Magazine Radio
The One With the Instagram Rabbis

President Roth speaks on the "Unorthodox" podcast about free speech on campus and making students feel "safe enough, but not too safe" to explore new ideas and perspectives. (Roth comes in around 49 minutes). [ Read More ]

September 18, 2019 - KERA Radio
Do Colleges Really Need Safe Spaces?

In this wide-ranging conversation, President Roth speaks with host Kris Boyd about balancing students' need to feel safe and included on campuses while keeping them open to new ideas. They also discuss the often misunderstood concept of "safe spaces." [ Read More ]

September 17, 2019 - Thrive Global
How a University Professor Creates a Powerful Learning Atmosphere for Students

An excerpt of President Roth's book, Safe Enough Spaces, is published on Thrive Global. [ Read More ]

September 10, 2019 - CNN
Free Speech Wars Miss the Point of College

In this op-ed, President Roth argues against the "free market approach to speech" on college campuses, which he says is misleading, and causes real harm to people while also failing to ensure an airing of diverse viewpoints. [ Read More ]

September 9, 2019 - WSHU's "The Full Story" Radio
Back to School: Start Times and Safe Spaces

President Roth talks about the need to proactively cultivate intellectual diversity on college campuses, and teaching students intellectual humility. (Roth comes in around 29 minutes). [ Read More ]

September 5, 2019 - KQED's "Forum" Radio
Creating 'Safe Enough Spaces' on College Campuses

President Roth speaks with host Michael Krasny about creating environments where students feel heard and accepted, but can also participate in debates that challenge their beliefs. [ Read More ]

September 1, 2019 - The Atlantic
When Faith Comes Up, Students Avert Their Eyes

In this essay, President Roth writes about the challenge of engaging students at a secular university in a class discussion on religious faith. [ Read More ]

August 30, 2019 - The Washington Post
On College Campuses, Managing the Tension Between Inclusion and Ideas

This review calls Safe Enough Spaces "a timely book on a fascinating topic," noting, "Roth’s historical approach is useful and instructive," and "Roth is at his best at his most declarative." [ Read More ]

August 29, 2019 - The New York Times
Don't Dismiss 'Safe Spaces'

In this op-ed, President Roth advocates for creating "safe enough spaces" on college campuses, which "promote a basic sense of inclusion and respect that enables students to learn and grow — to be open to ideas and perspectives so that the differences they encounter are educative." [ Read More ]

August 23, 2019 - The Washington Post
A Yale Professor Frets About a Waning Aristocracy

President Roth reviews former Yale Law School Dean Anthony Kronman's The Assault on American Excellence, which he calls a "paranoid picture of campus life." Roth concludes, "I am unpersuaded by the recycled anecdotes meant to show that a tide of levelers rejects the very notion of recognizing great achievement." [ Read More ]

August 23, 2019 - WGBH Radio
On Campus Radio

President Roth speaks with On Campus Radio about why this is a unique time in campus politics, what it means to be truly "inclusive" on campus, and how to cultivate intellectual diversity at colleges and universities. (President Roth comes in around 41 minutes). [ Read More ]

August 22, 2019 - Boston Globe
Don't Get All PC About My Truth

In this op-ed, President Roth writes about the evolution of the term "politically correct," and argues "the phrase has long been a free pass for avoiding serious issues." [ Read More ]

August 21, 2019 - The Jim Bohannon Show Radio
Michael Roth

President Roth engages in a wide-ranging conversation on Safe Enough Spaces with Jim Bohannon. [ Read More ]

August 19, 2019 - WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show Radio
College President on Free Speech, Safe Spaces, and Diversity

President Roth talks on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show about the “safe enough spaces” he envisions on college campuses; recalls a free speech controversy on Wesleyan’s campus; and takes calls from recent college graduates. [ Read More ]

August 14, 2019 - Wisconsin Public Radio
Inclusion, Free Speech and Political Correctness on College Campuses

President Roth speaks on Wisconsin Public Radio about the benefits of diversity and "constructive disagreement" on college campuses, creating authentic intellectual diversity, and why state legislatures are not the appropriate bodies to safeguard campus free speech. [ Read More ]

August 9, 2019 - The Wall Street Journal
'Sudden Courage' Review: Youth Who Fought to Be Free

President Roth reviews a new book by Ronald Rosbottom that explores what life was like for young students in France during the Nazi occupation. [ Read More ]

July 18, 2019 - The Washington Post
To Find Serenity, Freedom and Creativity, Sometimes It's Best to Forget

President Roth reviews A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past, a book in which author Lewis Hyde "doesn't ignore the pain of involuntary amnesia, but [...] is much more interested in the liberating aspects of 'getting past the past,' as his subtitle puts it." [ Read More ]

May 14, 2019 - Inside Higher Ed
The Need for a Recover of the Humanities

In this essay, President Roth proposes a "path toward recovery" for the beleaguered humanities. He writes, "in order to recover the trust of students and their families, we must overcome our cultivated insularity." [ Read More ]

February 22, 2019 - The Critical Thinking Initiative Podcast Radio
Interview with Michael Roth

President Roth offers his perspective on the relationship between critical thinking, the liberal arts, and interdisciplinarity. He also argues for the importance of pushing students to step outside their own viewpoints about the world. [ Read More ]

February 21, 2019 - The Washington Post
The Delight of Being Inconspicuous in a World That's Always Watching Us

President Roth reviews a new book by Akiko Busch that considers the strategies humans have devised "to avoid being seen" at a time when nearly everything we do is visible to others through technology. [ Read More ]

February 13, 2019 - San Francisco Chronicle
Leading the Way: A Review of 'Parkland,' by Dave Cullen

President Roth reviews Dave Cullen's new book, Parkland, which profiles the "extraordinary young people" who took action "to turn their tragedy into fuel for a political movement that would push back against the National Rifle Association’s stranglehold on American politics and create a path for legislation for gun safety." [ Read More ]

December 12, 2018 - Inside Higher Ed
Ordinary Education in Extraordinary Times

President Roth writes in Inside Higher Ed that in uncommon times, “traditional educational practices of valuing learning from people different from ourselves have never been more important.” [ Read More ]

November 1, 2018 - Inside Higher Ed
Voting is Good, but Higher Ed Must Do More

“In a year when inducements to political violence have become normalized at the highest level, colleges and universities must do more than just encourage our students to vote,” writes President Michael S. Roth in Inside Higher Ed. [ Read More ]

October 29, 2018 - The Washington Post
University President: When I Heard the Pittsburgh News

President Roth reflects on the killing of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh , and writes about how schools can empower students to “create a more hospitable and just country.”

[ Read More ]

September 7, 2018 - The Washington Post
Have Parents Made Their Kids Too Fragile for the Rough-and-Tumble of Life?

In President Roth's review of The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, he agrees with the authors' defense of "free speech as essential to the mission of higher education," but pushes back on their "catastrophizing" and the broad generalizations they make about an entire generation of young people. [ Read More ]

August 21, 2018 - The Wall Street Journal
'The Lost Education of Horace Tate' Review: Civil Rights for School Children

President Roth reviews Emory professor Vanessa Siddle Walker's new book on a previously "unseen network of black educators" across the South, who fought heroically "over many decades for equality and justice." [ Read More ]

August 10, 2018 - The New York Times
Defending Conservatism, and Seeking Converts

President Roth reviews Roger Scruton's new book on Conservatism, which provides an "enlightening" background on a variety of important conservative thinkers, but stoops to scapegoating Muslims to "rally the troops." [ Read More ]

July 31, 2018 - The Washington Post
What Jeff Sessions Doesn't Get About U.S. Higher Education and Political Correctness

In this op-ed, President Roth pushes back against political attacks on higher education institutions as being overly pc, writing, "Campuses are challenging places when they cultivate diversity of perspective, a sense of belonging and a common devotion to rigorous inquiry." [ Read More ]

June 23, 2018 - Intelligence Squared U.S.
Trigger Warning: Safe Spaces Are Dangerous

President Roth debates issues of free speech and safe spaces on campus, arguing that there should be some spaces that are just safe enough to allow all groups of people to express their views. [ Read More ]

May 29, 2018 - The Washington Post
Our Graduates Should Answer Cynicism and Insults with Inquiry and Reflection

In this op-ed, President Roth expresses his hope that this year's graduates will feel empowered, and their capacity for inquiry, compromise, and reflection will be enhanced, by their college educations. [ Read More ]

May 4, 2018 - The Washington Post
On the Subject of Evolution, a Way to Hang Onto Both Science and Religion

President Roth reviews Kenneth R. Miller's new book, The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness and Free Will. [ Read More ]

April 10, 2018 - Inside Higher Ed
The Data Should Make You Happy!

President Roth reviews Steven Pinker's new book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress. [ Read More ]

February 22, 2018 - Inside Higher Ed
Against Conformity

President Roth reflects on the questioning of liberal education in China and the United States. [ Read More ]

January 19, 2018 - The Wall Street Journal
Review: 'Anatomy of a Genocide' Reveals There Was Always a Choice

President Roth reviews a new book that explores the "ways in which ideology, ethnic tension and war became a recipe for mass murder" in a town in present-day Ukraine during World War II. [ Read More ]

January 14, 2018 - The Washington Post
We Can't Let Cynics Ruin College

President Roth warns against the dangerous repercussions of increasingly politicized views of higher education. [ Read More ]

January 12, 2018 - The Washington Post
Review: President Richard Nixon and LSD guru Timothy Leary, crazy in their own ways

President Roth reviews "The Most Dangerous Man in America," a new book exploring the bizarre links between President Richard Nixon and Timothy Leary, whom the Nixon administration attempted to "turn into the face of the enemy." [ Read More ]

January 6, 2018 - C-SPAN TV
American Historical Association Annual Meeting

President Roth discusses questions of free speech on college campuses with a panel of history professors and authors at the American Historical Association Annual Meeting. [ Read More ]

January 5, 2018 - The Chronicle of Higher Education TV
How One College President Confronts 'The Biases of the Professoriate'

In this "On Leadership" interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, President Roth reflects on progress made during his decade leading Wesleyan, his efforts to increase diversity on campus, and questions about campus free speech.
[ Read More ]

December 15, 2017 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
With an Employee Facing Deportation, Wesleyan's President Speaks Out

In this interview, President Roth shares his perspective on the appropriate role of university leaders in influencing national political discussions. [ Read More ]

December 13, 2017 - The Washington Post
What is college for? (Hint: It's not just about getting in)

President Roth urges prospective students applying to college to look beyond just getting into the "best" school, and instead focus on finding what they love to do, getting better at it, and learning to share it with others. [ Read More ]

October 12, 2017 - The Hechinger Report
Opinion: Do We Kill the Liberal Arts When We Demonize People for their Ideas?

President Roth argues that fostering intellectual diversity on campuses is not only a "question of political fairness," but is imperative for the education of students. [ Read More ]

October 4, 2017 - How Do We Fix It? podcast Radio
Affirmative Action for Conservatives?

President Roth makes a powerful argument in defense of free speech on college campuses, and calls on colleges to pursue diversity broadly. [ Read More ]

September 22, 2017 - The Washington Post
How free should free speech be on campus?

In his review of the new book, "Free Speech on Campus," President Roth finds much to agree with in the authors' account of campus speech issues, yet points out some limitations of their dogmatic approach to freedom of expression. [ Read More ]

September 18, 2017 - The Washington Post
Colleges Must Not Turn Back the Clock on Efforts to Combat Sexual Assault

In response to recent statements by the Trump Administration about Title IX enforcement on campuses, President Roth reaffirms Wesleyan's commitment to supporting survivors while also protecting "the presumption of innocence and due process for anyone facing serious allegations." [ Read More ]

September 1, 2017 - The Washington Post
Revolutionizing the University for the Digital Era

President Roth reviews The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux, in which author Cathy N. Davidson argues that "the digital revolution of the past few decades requires a revolution in higher education." [ Read More ]

August 31, 2017 - Inside Higher Ed
Inequality and 'The Once and Future Liberal'

President Roth responds to Mark Lilla's book, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics, which criticizes liberals for emphasizing identity at the expense of solidarity. [ Read More ]

August 4, 2017 - Inside Higher Ed
Affirmative Action: Now More Than Ever

In response to news of a Justice Department investigation of affirmative action, President Roth discusses why we must resist efforts to restrict affirmative action. [ Read More ]

July 17, 2017 - Inside Higher Ed
From Unruly Hearts to Open Minds

In this essay in Inside Higher Ed, President Roth examines campus intellectual diversity in a time of polarization. [ Read More ]

May 11, 2017 - The Wall Street Journal
The Opening of the Liberal Mind

President Roth makes the case for an "affirmative action" program for the study of conservative, libertarian and religious ideas on college campuses. (WSJ subscription required to access article). [ Read More ]

April 30, 2017 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Here's Looking at You, 'Casablanca'

President Roth writes in The Chronicle Review about teaching the iconic 75-year-old film Casablanca to today's college students. [ Read More ]

April 28, 2017 - The Washington Post
Can lessons of the humanities help solve problems in the business world?

President Roth reflects on "Sensemaking" by Christian Madsbjerg, founder of the business strategy consulting firm ReD, which advocates for "a holistic apporach to solving problems: 'a method of practical wisdom grounded in the humanities.'" [ Read More ]

April 24, 2017 - The Washington Post
Why Americans Should Care That Hungary is Trying to Shut Down a Leading University

President Roth writes: "When freedom of inquiry and expression is threatened on campus, it will be threatened elsewhere in society. In the long run, it's the most vulnerable who have the most to lose." [ Read More ]

April 5, 2017 - Inside Higher Ed
Isn't It Pragmatic?

In this essay, President Roth reflects on a recent visit to India and explores how and why Indian students are embracing liberal arts education. [ Read More ]

February 24, 2017 - The Washington Post
How Nazis Destroyed Books in a Quest to Destroy European Culture

President Roth reviews Anders Rydell's "The Book Thieves" on the Nazis' attempts to destroy book collections of Jews and rewrite Jewish history from a National Socialist perspective. [ Read More ]

February 17, 2017 - San Francisco Chronicle
'Age of Anger: A History of the Present,' by Pankaj Mishra

President Roth reviews a new book, Age of Anger: A History of the Present, in which author Pankaj Mishra traces the populist violence and anger of today to "patterns set down in 18th century France and then repeated around the world as peoples deal with modernization and the loss of tradition." [ Read More ]

February 1, 2017 - Inside Higher Ed
Rejecting Bigotry is Core to Our Mission

In the wake of a recent executive order on immigration, President Roth writes about the "vital role" colleges and universities must play in resisting bigotry. [ Read More ]

January 16, 2017 - WBUR Public Radio Radio
Could Liberal Arts Education Heal the Political Divides?

In an interview with WBUR Public Radio, President Roth defends the value of a broad liberal education, particularly in exposing students to different points of view, and highlights Wesleyan's efforts to incorporate a diversity of viewpoints into its student body, faculty, and among visiting speakers. [ Read More ]

January 13, 2017 - The Washington Post
Why Pragmatic Liberal Education Matters Now More Than Ever

Following a visit to China's Peking University-Shenzhen, which has decided to start an undergraduate liberal arts college, President Roth reflects on why commitment to a liberal education is more urgent today than ever. [ Read More ]

January 10, 2017 - The Wall Street Journal
Why Johnny (Still) Can't Read

President Roth reviews Mark Seidenberg's book, Language at the Speed of Sight, which makes a compelling argument "backed by decades of research, to show that the only responsible way to teach children to read well is to build up their abilities to connect reading with speech and then to amplify these connections through practice, developing skillful behavioral patterns hand in hand with the neurological networks that undergird them." (Article may be behind paywall). [ Read More ]

November 14, 2016 - Inside Higher Ed
Vigilance and Inclusivity: Now, More Than Ever

We in higher education must strive to build inclusive communities and express our care for one another in a context of fairness, one that includes ensuring a place for conservative viewpoints, writes Michael Roth. [ Read More ]

September 25, 2016 - Chronicle of Higher Education
Barack Obama's Imprint on Higher Education

President Roth reviews the impact of the Obama administration on higher ed, including improvements in financial aid and increased scrutiny regarding assessment. [ Read More ]

August 30, 2016 - Washington Post
So You Like the University of Chicago's Rejection of 'Safe Spaces' for Students? Consider This.

Writing for the Answer Sheet blog, President Roth discusses a controversial letter sent to students by the University of Chicago and comments on a Wesleyan debate about freedom of expression. [ Read More ]

August 23, 2016 - Inside Higher Ed
Help Stop Trumpian Calamity

President Roth calls out the dangers he sees the Trump campaign posting to our political ecosystem, and he urges other higher education leaders to "sound the alarm." [ Read More ]

August 19, 2016 - Washington Post
In Psychology, You're Supposed to Grow Out of Childish Narcissism. Now Donald...

President Roth reviews The Selfishness of Others: An Eassay on the Fear of Narcissism by cultural journalist Kristin Dombek and comments on the timely example of Donald Trump. [ Read More ]

June 26, 2016 - Wall Street Journal
Don't Speak, Memory

President Roth reviews "In Praise of Forgetting," in which author David Rieff argues that "the impermanence of memory is often a good thing since forgetting can facilitate conflict resolution." [ Read More ]

June 15, 2016 - The Huffington Post
'Hamilton' and Liberal Education

President Roth announces that Wesleyan will establish the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity in honor of alumni Lin-Manuel Miranda '02 and Thomas Kail '99, creator and director of the hit musical Hamilton. [ Read More ]

May 26, 2016 - The Washington Post
Forget Forbidden Pleasures: Finding Joy in Everyday Comforts

President Roth reviews psychoanalyst Adam Phillips' new book, Unforbidden Pleasures, which encourages readers to "explore new habits and possibilities without worrying too much about violating rules, or even being consistent with ourselves." [ Read More ]

May 20, 2016 - The Washington Post
Three Things Every College Student Should Learn

President Roth speaks to admitted students and their parents during WesFest about three things every student should learn in college: discover what they love to do, get better at it, and learn to share it with others. [ Read More ]

April 12, 2016 - The Atlantic
Reducing the Fear of Life After College

President Roth reviews There is Life After College, a new book in which author Jeff Selingo aims to reassure parents and students about life after college "by offering to make sense of the career options out there giving practical advice on how to find one's way among them." [ Read More ]

March 18, 2016 - The Washington Post
Thomas Jefferson Would Not Have Liked This College Trend

"As president of a university dedicated to broad, liberal education, I both deplore the new conformity and welcome an increased emphasis on STEM fields," writes President Roth. "Choosing to study a STEM field should be a choice for creativity not conformity. There is nothing narrow about an authentic education in the sciences." [ Read More ]

March 13, 2016 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
A Sip of What Philosophy Needs

President Roth reviews At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell, a lively book that helps readers explore great philosophers and "rediscover how philosophy can be a mode of thinking that we can inhabit and learn from in our ordinary lives." [ Read More ]

March 4, 2016 - The Wall Street Journal
What is a University For?

President Roth reviews two books—Wisdom's Workshop: The Rise of the Modern University, and Toward a More Perfect University–which offer different views of where higher education is today and how it got there. According to Roth, both authors "believe that American higher education can be improved, but they are confident that this improvement will occur through the evolution of its capacity for producing new knowledge and disseminating it." [ Read More ]

March 2, 2016 - Essential Pittsburgh Radio
Author Defends Liberal Arts Education in a World that Celebrates STEM

President Roth discusses how a liberal education empowers students to pursue important work after graduating, and why a push toward focusing solely on STEM fields is misguided. [ Read More ]

January 1, 2016 - The Wall Street Journal
Michael Roth on Liberal Education's Comeback

President Roth predicts that 2016 will see "a resurgent commitment in higher education to a pragmatic liberal-arts education." [ Read More ]

December 31, 2015 - The Huffington Post
Will the fantasy of political correctness continue in 2016?

In 2016, President Roth writes, "I expect to see the bogeyman of political correctness circulate even more widely in academic circles and in national political discourse." [ Read More ]

December 5, 2015 - The Washington Post
Has political correctness really 'run amok' on college campuses?

President Roth argues that political correctness is a "charismatic bogeyman with strange powers to tittilate liberal and conservative writers alike." But the reality of campus life is quite different than the PC picture painted by critics. [ Read More ]

November 25, 2015 - The Washington Post
Chasing the traces of a vanishing Paris

President Roth reviews The Other Paris by Luc Sante, a book "devoted to recollection" of Paris's underside, "which has long been threatened and in recent years has become increasingly difficult to find." [ Read More ]

November 20, 2015 - The Washington Post
Sick of hearing about pampered college students with coddled minds? This university president is.

President Roth disputes the narrative of "coddled" college students, and discusses the reality of student activism on campus. [ Read More ]

November 2, 2015 - The Daily Beast
The Unending Search for the Soul

President Roth reviews George Makari's Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind, a history of Western thought about questions of how the human mind is related to the material world. [ Read More ]

November 1, 2015 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Unprincipled on Principle

President Roth reviews a new collection of writings by New York Times columnist Stanley Fish. "Whether he is writing about French theory, religion, poetry, law, liberal education, or politics in upstate New York... Fish is both stimulating and precise." [ Read More ]

October 24, 2015 - The Hartford Courant
The Uncomfortable Truth About Free Speech

President Roth reflects on the campus controversy over an op-ed published in The Wesleyan Argus, writing, "A campus free from violence is an absolute necessity for a true education, but a campus free from challenge and confrontation would be anathema to it." [ Read More ]

October 16, 2015 - The Atlantic
American Liberal Education is Happening in Singapore

President Roth muses on the recent opening of a new American-style liberal arts college in Singapore, at a time when that model of broad, contextual study is under "enormous pressure" in the United States. [ Read More ]

September 17, 2015 - The Washington Post
On the Passing of an Unusual Scholar

President Roth pays tribute to a former Wesleyan professor and his mentor, Carl Schorske, who died this month at age 100. Schorske was "the great historian of anti-historical thinking" as well as "an extraordinary teacher–erudite, humane, and sensitive to the different ways that students learned." [ Read More ]

September 4, 2015 - The Washington Post
Role of broken politics in fueling the horrors of the Holocaust

President Roth reviewed a new book, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, by Timothy Snyder, which considers Hitler's worldview as "essential for grasping the history of Nazi efforts to eliminate Jews from the planet." [ Read More ]

August 13, 2015 - InsideSources
Liberal Arts--Learning to Learn

In a counterpoint to President Michael Benson of Eastern Kentucky University, President Roth makes the case for a broad contextual education, one which inspires "habits of attention and critique that will be resources for students years after graduation." [ Read More ]

May 16, 2015 - The Atlantic
Oliver Sacks Knows What It Really Means to Live

In his review of Oliver Sacks' new memoir, On the Move, President Roth writes that the celebrated neurologist, "opens himself to recognition, much as he has opened the lives of others to being recognized in their fullness." [ Read More ]

April 10, 2015 - The Washington Post
You didn't get into Harvard, so what?

President Roth reviews New York Times columnist Frank Bruni's new book, Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, which speaks not only to young men and women competing for admission to highly competitive colleges and universities, but more broadly to "the culture of manufactured meritocracy." [ Read More ]

April 8, 2015 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Can Matthew Crawford Deliver Us from Distraction?

President Roth explores the writings of Matthew Crawford, whose 2009 book, Shop Class, asks the question, "What is good work?" and whose latest book, In the World Beyond Your Head, examines "how it is we come to interact with, or flee from, the world around us in the first place, and how perception and the self prepare one for participation in a world of work." [ Read More ]

April 1, 2015 - The Daily Beast
Does College Have a Future After All?

President Michael Roth reviewed In Defense of a Liberal Education by Fareed Zakaria, a refreshing change from the scores of books published in recent years decrying the state of higher education. [ Read More ]

March 12, 2015 - The Atlantic
Beyond "The End of College"

President Roth reviews Kevin Carey's controversial new book The End of College.  [ Read More ]

February 20, 2015 - The Wall Street Journal
Religion's Role in the History of Ideas

President Roth writes about the importance of exploring religious feelings and experiences in humanities education, and why these topics make students so uncomfortable. (Content available to subscribers). [ Read More ]

February 5, 2015 - Inside Higher Ed
Roles and Responsibilities

Responding to a new book by William Bowen and Gene Tobin, President Roth writes about how positive change is effected at colleges and universities, from his own personal experience. [ Read More ]

January 16, 2015 - The Washington Post
Book Review: "The Girl From Human Street"

President Roth reviews a memoir by Roger Cohen, in which the author considers his own family's diaspora, revealing "how the threads of this legacy of displacement are woven together, all the while making visible tears in the fabric never to be fully mended." [ Read More ]

January 1, 2015 - The Huffington Post
Worthy of Free Expression

President Roth writes, "The attacks in Paris remind us that those willing to destroy freedom of expression in the name of their own totalitarian commitments can wreak havoc in a society determined to maintain openness and tolerance within the rule of law." [ Read More ]

December 23, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Making Education Our Cause

President Roth calls on readers to commit themselves to the cause of making a broad contextual education available to all. [ Read More ]

December 17, 2014 - The Daily Beast
Your Local School Doesn't Have to Suck

President Roth reviews a new book by Joel Klein, "Lessons of Hope: How to Fix Our Schools," about lessons of school reform learned from his experience as New York City School Chancellor. [ Read More ]

November 26, 2014 - The New Republic
College Shouldn't Prepare You for Your First Job. It Should Prepare You for Your Life.

As college admissions season heats up, President Roth makes the case for a broad, pragmatic liberal education. He advises prospective students to view college "as a remarkable opportunity to explore their individual and social lives in connection with the world in which they will live and work." [ Read More ]

November 17, 2014 - CNN
High Expenses for Higher Education

Speaking with Ashleigh Banfield on her show "Legal View," President Roth discusses the rising cost of higher education, and its importance. A film clip from "The Ivory Tower," a documentary on higher education featuring President Roth, is shown. [ Read More ]

October 29, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Attack Ad to Beat All Attack Ads

The Wesleyan Media Project's research on campaign advertising is a prime example of liberal learning as preparation for citizenship, writes President Roth. [ Read More ]

October 26, 2014 - The New York Times
A Shared Blessing for a Far-Flung People

President Roth reviews 'At Home in Exile' on the Jewish diaspora, by Alan Wolfe. [ Read More ]

October 16, 2014 - WKNO Radio
Michael Roth on Why Liberal Education Matters

In an interview with host Jonathan Judaken, President Roth makes the case for a "pragmatic liberal education" and explains why a liberal university education matters in America. [ Read More ]

September 29, 2014 - NPR's The Faith Middleton Show Radio
Is a Liberal Arts Degree Still Smart?

President Roth talks with Faith Middletown about students' fear about finding jobs in a competitive economy, as well as the hope provided by education that learning to think critically increases our ability to find meaning and contribute effectively to the world. [ Read More ]

September 22, 2014 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Why Freud Still Haunts Us

On the 75th anniversary of Sigmund Freud's death, President Roth reflects on why the founder of psychoanalysis still matters. [ Read More ]

September 14, 2014 - The Daily Beast
The Elite American College Pile-On

President Roth responds to recent critiques of higher ed, which claim elite institutions are either not prioritizing academic aptitude or are turning out "sheep" with few aspirations other than earning money. At Wesleyan and other liberal arts colleges, Roth says he has found not "sheep," but "students with whom I can learn and who are eager to find meaning in their lives as well as skills with which to live." [ Read More ]

September 8, 2014 - The Atlantic
Why 'Nano-Degrees' Can Never Replace Liberal Arts College

In response to a new flurry of "nano-degrees," which train students in one specific skill set, President Roth writes, "...I'm very skeptical about the current re-fashioning of vocational education under the banner of Silicon Valley sophistication." [ Read More ]

September 5, 2014 - The Washington Post
Book Review: 'Building a Better Teacher' on Secrets of Good Teaching by Elizabeth Green

President Roth reviews a new book by Elizabeth Green, in which she seeks to dispel the "myth of the natural-born teacher," and related arguments about teacher accountability and autonomy. [ Read More ]

September 4, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Review of "Why Football Matters" by Mark Edmundson

Mark Edumundson's new book about lessons he learned playing football "enriches one's sense of a game that enthralls millions of Americans with its violence and its grace. It also reminds us of how the risks and rewards of athletics can be integrated with an education for life," writes President Roth in this review. [ Read More ]

September 3, 2014 - The San Francisco Chronicle
Review: 'The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs' by Greil Marcus

Review: 'The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs' by Greil Marcus [ Read More ]

August 30, 2014 - The Daily Beast
College Must Be More Than Just a Classy Trade School

Looking to the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, President Roth writes that the long-running "tensions between the lofty and practical ideals for higher education are instructive for us today." [ Read More ]

August 4, 2014 - NPR's "All Things Considered"
Amid Rising College Costs, a Defense of the Liberal Arts

In this interview, President Roth says that the debate over the value of a college education is hardly a new one, and that a liberal arts education is more important now than ever. [ Read More ]

July 14, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Fighting for Full Access to Education for Girls and Women

President Roth writes on the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Chibok, and the worldwide battle for access to education for girls and women. [ Read More ]

July 3, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Declaring Our Independence Through Education

On Independence Day, President Roth writes about the promise of liberal education to provide students with "greater independence and capacity for productive work well beyond graduation day." [ Read More ]

June 27, 2014 - The Washington Post
Book Review: "Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychanalyst," by Adam Phillips

President Roth reviews a new biography of Sigmund Freud, which makes use of a "paucity of verifiable facts" about Freud's early life to show how "this visionary pragmatist [came to understand] that we could construct meaning and direction from our memories in order to suffer less and live more fully in the present." [ Read More ]

June 19, 2014 - The Leonard Lopate Show Radio
Wesleyan University President Champions Liberal Education

President Roth discusses his book with WNYC's Leonard Lopate. [ Read More ]

June 19, 2014 - The Daily Beast
How to Destroy College Education

President Roth writes about Americans' tradition, dating back to the country's founding, of arguing over narrow, vocational versus broad, liberal approaches to college education. [ Read More ]

June 11, 2014 - KQED Public Radio Radio
The True Value of a Liberal Arts Education

President Roth tells KQED that it doesn't matter what you study in college, but rather how you study it. [ Read More ]

June 2, 2014 - WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show Radio
Liberal Arts, Carbon Emissions and Of Course, Jeopardy!

President Roth makes the case to Colin McEnroe that, despite the costs of higher education, a liberal education is essential and worth it. [ Read More ]

May 29, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Commencement Thoughts for the Class of 2014

"The work of expanding your intellectual and cultural horizons is never done, and we trust that the education you take with you today will help you continue to animate a diverse and expansive world for decades to come," President Roth tells the class of 2014. [ Read More ]

May 28, 2014 - KERA Public Radio
Study Up for 'Think': Why Liberal Education Matters

President Roth discusses his book with Krys Boyd, and answers the question: What will yield the most advantageous results: higher education focused on science, engineering and math (STEM) or postsecondary schools based in liberal arts? [ Read More ]

May 10, 2014 - The New York Times
Young Minds in Critical Condition

President Roth warns against the proclivity of many undergraduates for critical deconstruction. He instead urges students to allow themselves to be absorbed in compelling work, and consider how they might find inspiration, meaning or direction in it. [ Read More ]

May 9, 2014 - The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe

In an age when pundits continually question whether the cost of higher education is worth it and undergraduates behave like consumers, President Roth argues against notions that non-monetized learning is wasted or worthless. [ Read More ]

May 5, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Education, Gender, Kidnapping: Fight for the Right to Learn!

President Roth writes about the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Chibok as "a war on women's rights, on education, and on creating the possibilities that all people, as philospher Martha Nussbaum has put it, can lead a fully human life." [ Read More ]

April 24, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Supreme Court Decision Undermines Education and Opportunity

President Roth responds to the Supreme Court ruling that upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment banning consideration of race in college admissions. He asserts, "Under the guise of democracy and supporting the political process, the Court has allowed States to close off opportunities for those who would benefit from them the most." [ Read More ]

April 9, 2014 - McClatchyDC
In College, Choose to Thrive

As high school seniors struggle to decide where to spend their next four years, President Roth urges readers to choose a college "at which you can thrive, finding out so much more about yourself as you also discover how the world works, how to make meaning from it and how you might contribute to it." [ Read More ]

March 23, 2014 - San Francisco Chronicle
'The Story of the Jews,' by Simon Schama

President Roth reviews Schama's "excellent" account of Jewish history, in which the historian draws on many different sources, "drill[s] deep" into a specific subject, and "take[s] a wide-angle view of many countries over long periods of time." [ Read More ]

February 24, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Conflict and Culture at New York's Jewish Museum

President Roth, writing as Sigmund Freud, on The Jewish Museum's decision to cancel a talk on Frantz Kafka by controversial feminist philosopher Judith Butler. [ Read More ]

February 23, 2014 - The Washington Post
'The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History' by Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert's new book argues convincingly that human beings "have been bad news for most of the world's living things, causing massive extinctions of species with which we share the planet," and, unless we change our ways, "we will certainly cause our own demise," writes President Roth in this review. [ Read More ]

February 5, 2014 - The Huffington Post
Tolerance of Ambiguity--An Opportunity to Learn

"Openness to learning is a lifelong endeavor, and that openness is undermined when one believes one has vanquished uncertainty," writes President Roth. [ Read More ]

January 23, 2014 - The Huffington Post
The Obamas' Jeffersonian Moment

President Roth recounts his discussion at the White House with the Obamas and other college and university presidents about access to education, and how it can change lives. [ Read More ]

December 20, 2013 - The Washington Post
`Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence'

President Roth awards only a passing grade to Daniel Goleman's `Focus," saying the celebrated author of  "Emotional Intelligence" has a good idea that is only somewhat realized in his latest book.

"`Focus' has real moments of insight, strong pages on interesting research and its potential applications," Roth writes. "Unfortunately, in trying to be all things to all readers, Goleman’s book fails to consistently sustain and repay our attention."

[ Read More ]

December 19, 2013 - Los Angeles Times
A Repugnant Attack on Academic Freedom

An American Studies Association boycott of Israeli academic institutions is "a repugnant attack on academic freedom," President Roth writes, "Declaring academic institutions off-limits because of their national affiliation. 

"The ASA has not gone on record against universities in any other country: not against those that enforce laws against homosexuality, not against those that have rejected freedom of speech, not against those that systematically restrict access to higher education by race, religion or gender. No, the ASA listens to civil society only when it speaks against Israel. As its scholarly president declared, "One has to start somewhere." Not in North Korea, not in Russia or Zimbabwe or China — one has to start with Israel. Really?"


[ Read More ]

November 12, 2013 - Inside Higher Ed
Thinking for Oneself

"America has long been ambivalent about learning for its own sake," writes President Roth, "at times investing heavily in free inquiry and lifelong learning, and at other times worrying that we need more specialized training to be economically competitive. A century ago these worries were intense, and then, as now, pundits talked about a flight from the humanities toward the hard sciences." [ Read More ]

October 1, 2013 - WGBH "On Campus" blog
WGBH "On Campus" blog

President Roth writes about the importance of economic diversity and an inclusive environment on college campuses to creating opportunities for social mobility. [ Read More ]

September 24, 2013 - The Huffington Post
Liberal Learning: A Pragmatic Education for Social Good

President Roth shares his presentation on liberal learning as a form of pragmatic education with deep roots in American history, delivered Sept. 22, 2013 at the Social Good Summit at the 92nd St. Y in New York City. [ Read More ]

September 14, 2013 - The Washington Post
'Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, H.M.' by Suzanne Corkin

H.M., a famous research subject whose amnesia helped advance the field of memory research by leaps and bounds, is the focus of a new book by Suzanne Corkin that President Roth reviews. [ Read More ]

August 30, 2013 - The Washington Post
'Higher Education in America' by Derek Bok

"[Bok's] book is too long to be called a report card, but it is a detailed progress report on the challenges and opportunities facing our nation's colleges and universities," writes President Roth in this review of Derek Bok's new book. [ Read More ]

August 20, 2013 - The New York Times
How Four Years Can (and Should) Transform You

President Roth reviews a new book by Mark Edmundson on the transformative power of great teaching, as well as the challenges posed to serious teachers by the modern higher education landscape. [ Read More ]

August 12, 2013 - McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Boosting Inclusion on Campus

"How do we promote inclusion on campuses that claim to value diversity? In classrooms and dorm rooms, from athletics to the arts?" questions President Roth in an op-ed carried by the McClatchy-Tribune News Service. [ Read More ]

July 2, 2013 - The Colin McEnroe Show Radio
Can the Humanities Be Saved?

President Roth talks with WNPR host Colin McEnroe about the rumored decline in the humanities. [ Read More ]

April 30, 2013 - The Wall Street Journal
My Global Philosophy Course

"Teaching this MOOC has shown me that online courses will be increasingly viable and valuable learning options for those who can't make their way to campuses," writes President Roth in this op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. [ Read More ]

April 29, 2013 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
My Modern Experience Teaching a MOOC

President Roth reflects on his experience teaching "The Modern and the Postmodern" as a Massive Open Online Course this year in The Chronicle of Higher Education. [ Read More ]

April 26, 2013 - The Washington Post
'Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition' by David Nirenberg

In The Washington Post, President Roth reviews David Nirenberg's 'Anti-Judaism,'  "a thorough, scholarly account of why, in the history of the West, Jews have been so easy to hate." [ Read More ]

March 31, 2013 - The Huffington Post
Conformity is the Enemy: From Groupthink to Diversity

Diversity on college campuses is a "powerful hedge against the 'rationalized conformity' of groupthink," President Roth argues in The Huffington Post. [ Read More ]

February 8, 2013 - The Washington Post
"Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story" by Jim Holt

In The Washingon Post, President Roth reviews Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt. Roth writes that Holt "takes on one of the biggest questions in conversations with philosophers and scientists: What is the origin of everything?" [ Read More ]

January 21, 2013 - The Huffington Post
"Leonardo and the Last Supper" by Ross King

In The Huffington Post, President Roth describes Ross King's Leonardo and the Last Supper as the portrait of the Renaissance master as a middle-aged man, who had no limits on his talents nor his imagination, but nonetheless undertook commissions the way his patrons directed. [ Read More ]

December 28, 2012 - The Washington Post
Book Review: "Hallucinations" by Oliver Sacks

For The Washington Post, President Roth reviewed Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, a "graceful and informative" study of hallucinations caused by "neurological misfirings that can be traced to disease, drugs or various changes in neurochemistry." Drawing upon descriptions of hallucinations experienced with Parkinsonian disorders, epilepsy, migraines, and narcolepsy, "Sacks explores the surprising ways in which our brains call up simulated realities that are almost indistinguishable from normal perceptions," Roth writes. [ Read More ]

December 28, 2012 - Los Angeles Times
Art Appreciation 101: 'Glittering Images' by Camille Paglia

In the Los Angeles TimesPresident Roth reviewed Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars by Camille Paglia. The book, which contains brief discussions of 29 works of visual art, seeks to help readers "find focus" amid the "torrential stream of flickering images." Roth writes: "Paglia's goal is straightforward: By offering images of great artworks and helping us to give them sustained attention, she hopes that readers will 'relearn how to see' with sustained pleasure and insight." [ Read More ]

November 24, 2012 - The Washington Post
"Makers: The New Industrial Revolution" by Chris Anderson

In The Washington Post, President Roth reviews a new book by Chris Anderson, departing editor of Wired magazine, which explores how in today's world, "technology has liberated the inventor from a dependence on the big manufacturer." The Web has "democractized the tools both of invention and production," Anderson writes. [ Read More ]

November 15, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Get Smart! Cultivate Interdependence!

President Roth writes about thinkers who offer deep criticism of the West's narrative of progress, including Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. [ Read More ]

November 2, 2012 - The Huffington Post
From Commencement to Campaign: Where is the Call to Service?

Just ahead of the 2012 presidential election, President Roth recalls the 2008 Wesleyan Commencement Address delivered by then-candidate Barack Obama, with its appeal to graduates to serve their communities, their country and the wider world. President Roth notes that this call to service has been entirely absent this election cycle from both Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. "Why are both candidates today so reluctant to call for service? Why do they continually appeal to our desire to have our country do something for us, but rarely ask that we make personal sacrifices to improve our collective future?" he writes. [ Read More ]

September 20, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Why a Liberal Arts School Has Joined Coursera

In the Huffington Post, President Roth writes about the recent announcement that Wesleyan would begin offering free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) through Coursera. He discusses how Wesleyan's online course offerings will differ from its on-campus courses, and what participating faculty members hope to learn from the experiment. [ Read More ]

September 5, 2012 - The New York Times
Learning As Freedom

President Roth discusses the recent calls to further specialize education and narrow what we teach students from K-12 and on to college at the exclusion of the liberal arts, especially the humanities. [ Read More ]

August 31, 2012 - The Huffington Post
On the Rick Levin Retirement

Following Rick Levin's surprising announcement that he would retire as president of Yale University, President Roth reflects on Levin's legacy. [ Read More ]

August 12, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Book Review: Dan Ariely's "The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty"

President Roth reviews a new book titled The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, in which author Dan Ariely, director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, applies an experimental approach to how we "lie to everyone--especially ourselves." [ Read More ]

August 3, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Thinking About Education with Washington and Du Bois

President Roth discusses the late 19th century debate over the purpose of education between two prominent black intellectuals--W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington--and its relevance to contemporary discussions on liberal learning and practicality. Washington advocated for an intensely practical, vocational education as a path to economic prosperity for ex-slaves and their descendants, while Du Bois emphasized political and civil equality, and "the education of youth according to ability." [ Read More ]

July 29, 2012 - The Washington Post
Review: "America the Philosophical"

In The Washington Post, President Roth reviews Carlin Romano’s America the Philosophical, which is an effort to consider how intellectual life in America exceeds the boundaries that we try to set for it in academia. Roth applauds the attempt but questions the outcome [ Read More ]

July 11, 2012 - The Washington Post
A Pragmatic Liberal Arts Education

While keeping in mind writings of activist Jane Addams, President Roth discusses liberal education, saying in part: "Liberal education today should prepare students for life, and many colleges have been increasingly focused on doing a better job of helping them transition from campus to life after graduation. Whether students do this through activism or internships, service learning or “intellectual cross-training,” they learn to make their education feed into what they will be doing in the world." [ Read More ]

July 4, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Learning and Independence: Examples for the Fourth

President Roth writes about the consistent links between education and freedom that run through American intellectual history. [ Read More ]

June 8, 2012 - The New York Times
Light, Truth and Whatever

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth reviews Andrew Delbanco new book, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be. Roth writes, "At a time when many are trying to reduce the college years to a training period for economic competition, Delbanco reminds readers of the ideal of democratic education." [ Read More ]

May 28, 2012 - The Huffington Post
"Commencement 2012: What Shall We Do With These Memories?"

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth shares his thoughts on commencement and the challenges the class of 2012 faces as they head out into the world. "We remember, but what shall we do with these memories? I trust you will gratefully acknowledge those who have sacrificed to nurture you, to guide you, and to protect our freedoms...I trust that you will practice forms of thinking that create opportunity rather than defend inequality and privilege." [ Read More ]

May 24, 2012 - The Washington Post
"A degree in ‘three marvelous years"

In a guest posting in a blog by the Post's Daniel DeVise, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth announced the university's new path to a three-year degree, which does not skimp on academic courses or rigor, but requires no overloads. Roth also discusses his reasons for the three-year degree. [ Read More ]

April 27, 2012 - The Washington Post
Review of "“The Patagonian Hare: Memoir”

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth gives Claude Lanzmann's new memoir The Pantagonian an endorsement with a caveat: "The Patagonian Hare is full of Lanzmann’s cloying self-regard, but we accept it for the single reason that he created “Shoah,” his 1985 documentary about the Nazi war against the Jews, one of the masterworks of cinema. A man who produces a great work of art that succeeds in deeply affecting our consciousness of the past and of the human condition deserves to be listened to. And so we listen to Lanzmann." [ Read More ]

March 29, 2012 - The Huffington Post
"How to Choose Your University"

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth discusses the challenges facing students and families when those college acceptance letters start coming in. This decsion may come down to costs, size of the instution, reputation, or even for some, a return visit to a few of the campuses being considered. Roth offers some suggestions for students and their parents to consider as they juggle this process. [ Read More ]

March 29, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Adrienne Rich: Writing as Social Practice

I read with sadness this morning that the great American poet, Adrienne Rich, died this week at her home in Santa Cruz. She was a brave and ardent writer, a gifted teacher and a powerful voice of conscience. There is no one quite like her in American letters. [ Read More ]

March 11, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Eyal Press' Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times

In his first book, Absolute Convictions, Eyal Press showed how anti-abortion crusaders in Buffalo achieved intense solidarity in pursuit of their goals, including the murder of an abortion provider and intimidation of others, such as the author's father. In Beautiful Souls, Press examines another side of strong group conviction: the ability to break ranks with others who display absolute unanimity. He wants to know, "Why, even in situations of seemingly total conformity, there are always some people who refuse to go along?" [ Read More ]

March 1, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Antonin Scalia and Political Diversity

Next week Justice Antonin Scalia will be delivering the Hugo Black Lecture at Wesleyan University. It's been a long time since we've welcomed a Supreme Court Justice to Middletown. Justice Harry Blackmun visited the campus in 1993, giving the second lecture in this series. We've invited others, but given the busy schedule of the Court, we have not been able to arrange a visit. When Justice Scalia accepted the invitation, he said that he had heard positive feedback about the lecture series and Wesleyan from his former law clerk, Lawrence Lessig, who spoke here a couple of years ago. [ Read More ]

February 23, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Why We Value Diversity

This week the Supreme Court voted to hear a challenge to the ability of colleges and universities to shape the racial and ethnic demographics of their student bodies. Currently, schools are allowed to use race as a factor among many others in achieving diversity for educational reasons. When the Court hears Fisher vs. the University of Texas, we may find that the justices set strict limits on how universities can consider race in their efforts to create an educational environment in which all students learn -- and learn from one another. [ Read More ]

February 1, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Go Positive!

It's been more than a little depressing to listen to debate performances over the last couple of months, in which candidates seem to gain in popularity by refining a formula of indignation and hostility. "How dare you," says the candidate, puffing out his chest, wondering how any questioner could sink so low to ask about a character flaw. The same candidate then dives even lower to cast aspersions on anyone who might be considered a rival. [ Read More ]

January 11, 2012 - The Huffington Post
Opportunity, Engagement and Confidence: Cures for the Civic Recession

The news about the American education system has been bleak over the last year—from elementary schools that seem “designed to fail” to for-profit universities that are scooping up borrowed tuition dollars without providing their graduates with much hope of gainful employment. No surprise then that the American public has grown increasingly suspicious of educators and their institutions. [ Read More ]

December 31, 2011 - The Huffington Post
2011: Deficits, Equality and Innovation

In the first half of 2011, we heard the word “deficit” in wave after wave of political discourse. The Republicans used it as a signifier of Washington’s lack of fiscal self-control—of an intellectually and morally bankrupt government that spent our money without concern for the views of those who had earned it in the first place. The “deficit” was real, and it was also symbolic of a failure to maintain an economy that promised a reasonable opportunity for creating a better future. [ Read More ]

October 20, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Resisting Inequality: Occupy Wall Street and Education

The Occupy Wall Street protests have become an important topic on college campuses. At Wesleyan, some of our students have joined the group in Zuccotti Park in New York, and others have found a variety of ways of expressing their support. Given the mainstream media's treatment of the movement, it's easy to mock the lack of clear policy initiatives or to roll one's eyes at the absence of leaders to express a neat list of demands. But in talking with students and reading some of the statements from the Occupy Wall Street participants, it seems to me that we get a pretty clear picture of their discontent. [ Read More ]

September 30, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Innovative University

The free inquiry and experimentation of our education helps us to think for ourselves, take responsibility for our beliefs and actions, and be better acquainted with our own desires, our own hopes. [ Read More ]

September 9, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Ten Years After: Commemoration Without Agenda

On this 10th anniversary of 9/11 let us simply acknowledge the claim that our painful memories still have on us. Let us recognize with piety that we still carry the traces of those traumatic events with us, and that we acknowledge their importance to us without trying to use them. [ Read More ]

September 5, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Happy First (Labor) Day of Classes!

1 day ago ... Labor is on the mind of our students and their families in a more general sense this year. The awful job situation in the United States has lasted ... [ Read More ]

July 27, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Budgeting for Greater Inequality

This week, while President Obama and House Speaker Boehner gave dueling speeches of blame and recrimination, a new report was released showing the extraordinary increase in the disparity of wealth between whites and nonwhites in the United States. The new data allows us to understand the stalemate in Washington over raising the debt ceiling from another perspective. And it indicates that the defense of racial and economic privilege under the rhetoric of "taking back our country" or of "living within our means" further undermines our political culture today as it starves future generations of cultural and economic opportunity. [ Read More ]

July 17, 2011 - The Huffington Post
"Preach a Crusade Against Ignorance" -- Don't Sacrifice the Future!

Let us not ignore our responsibility to invest in the future by supporting education. We must not allow our representatives to protect tax breaks for the most advantaged while ignoring our responsibility to give the next generation the education they need. [ Read More ]

July 9, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Our Desperate Need for Honest Leadership

Sensible government seems to have become a contradiction in terms. Democratic leaders have no ideas of their own, while Republican leaders are dedicated to protecting the rich -- not to fiscal responsibility. [ Read More ]

June 16, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Midnight in America: Renewing the Pantheon

... I am hopeful that those who will shape the future will also have cultivated the ability to renew the pantheon of great work from the past ... [ Read More ]

June 2, 2011 - The Huffington Post
America's Higher Education Resource

When it works well, our higher education sector offers a wide range of choices to students who hope to build on their education in different ... [ Read More ]

April 27, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Colleges Must Ensure Quality Not Inequality

... Cultivation of specialization, powerful departments, and intellectual fragmentation are linked in an unholy alliance that undermines the ... [ Read More ]

March 30, 2011 - The Huffington Post
A College Education: It's Not a Product; It's a Platform

Bill Gates has been calling for a targeted investment in the sciences and engineering. Steve Jobs recently emphasized the arts and ... [ Read More ]

March 4, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Math and Science Study Alone Will Not Make Students More Competitive

... President Obama should realize that innovation in technology companies, automobile design, medicine or food production does not come only ... [ Read More ]

February 23, 2011 - The Huffington Post
On Scholarship and Public Life

... I returned to Wesleyan University as president more than four years ago, and even though now some of this activism is directed against me, ...


[ Read More ]

February 6, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Allen Shawn's Twin: Overcoming Remoteness

... While acknowledging our separation from one another, Allen Shawn has made a brotherly gift that recalls the possibilities of connection ... [ Read More ]

January 27, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Investing in Educated Innovation

... Obama has often repeated his goal for K-12 education: college preparedness -- but why make college the goal if students aren't going to ... [ Read More ]

January 10, 2011 - The Huffington Post
Sowing The Rage

... Anger is routinely mistaken for caring, for intelligence, and, worst of all, for courage. But when you sow rage, you reap violence. [ Read More ]

December 3, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Why We Teach

... Although as a university president I spent much of my time in meetings, my colleagues tell me that I'm happiest just after I come back from ... [ Read More ]

November 3, 2010 - The Huffington Post
We Need to Create Trust

... Our frustration with Obama's leadership has not just been disappointment with specific policies that haven't worked. The frustration and the ... [ Read More ]

October 24, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Cynics Need to Drop Their Fear, Contempt

... In this age of degraded political discourse and anonymously funded attack ads, it's easy to see the reasons for the cynical withdrawal from ... [ Read More ]

September 30, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Virtuous Circle of Teaching and Research

Over the last thirty to forty years, higher education in America has viewed contributions to research as an essential part of its mission. In recent years the folly of this system has become increasingly evident… [ Read More ]

September 5, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Labor Day and the Start of the Semester

On this Labor Day all of us working in higher education should remember those who won’t have to report this week at all because there aren’t enough jobs… [ Read More ]

June 9, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Coming to the Defense of Liberal Education

It's a curious week when the New York Times runs two stories that defend traditional liberal arts education. And it's only Wednesday! [ Read More ]

June 6, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Now That You've Been Admitted: Choose the Student Culture That Energizes You

In thousands of homes with high school seniors aspiring to study at selective schools, the time has come for making tough choices. The thick envelopes (or weighty emails) arrived a couple of weeks ago, and the month of April is decision time. Of course, for many the decision will be made on an economic basis. [ Read More ]

March 29, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Remembering American Heroes

When we were kids, our aunt told us to "clean our plates, children are starving in Europe." In Europe? Where did she ever get that crazy idea, I wondered. Halfway through Richard Reeves' excellent Daring Young Men, I learned that all across America in the late 1940s mothers were saying something similar to their children. [ Read More ]

March 26, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Cruelty, Freedom and the Politics of Health Care Reform

On the eve of the health care vote liberal columnist Paul Krugman wrote in the Times that "our system is unique in its cruelty," as he urged passage of the imperfect but still progressive bill. [ Read More ]

February 22, 2010 - The Huffington Post
The Proper Role of Interdisciplinary Studies

A strategic planning process is valuable when it brings to the fore ideas that people already have about the direction of an institution but haven't articulated clearly. As our Chair of the Board Joshua Boger likes to say, "You don't make up a strategy, you discover the one you really mean to have." [ Read More ]

February 20, 2010 - The Huffington Post
American Virtue?

When I began reading The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, I had the feeling of reliving a bad dream.  The sordid and the sanctimonious, the crazy and the corrupt, the hypocrisy of those last years of the Clinton administration and, well, especially the hypocrisy were just awful to recall. [ Read More ]

February 12, 2010 - The Huffington Post
Education: From Condescension to Respect

This week political science professor Gerard Alexander hit a chord (or was it a nerve?) with his Washington Post essay on "why liberals are so condescending." Despite the recent successes of the Tea Party movement, Scott Brown, and a filibuster-happy Senate, Alexander repeats the old refrain: We conservatives get no respect. [ Read More ]

January 26, 2010 - The Huffington Post
For the State of the Union: Let's Learn from the Anger

Last week's election of the photogenic Scott Brown in Massachusetts has been greeted with stupefaction. How could the unaccomplished Brown take over the seat of the Lion of the Senate? [ Read More ]

January 3, 2010 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Beyond Critical Thinking

The antivocational dimension of the humanities has been a source of pride and embarrassment for generations. The persistence of this reputed uselessness is puzzling given the fact that an education in the humanities allows one to develop skills in reading, writing, reflection, and interpretation that are highly prized in our economy and culture. [ Read More ]

December 7, 2009 - The Huffington Post
College Admissions Anxieties

A couple of days ago on my university Blog someone wrote in: "The fact that being admitted into Wesleyan is even more difficult this year is great for Wes, but terrifying for people like me. Even though I applied ED 1 and will know in less than two weeks, it still is terrifying." [ Read More ]

November 17, 2009 - The Huffington Post
Liberal Arts Education: From Clubbiness to Cosmopolitanism

Lately there has been much talk about a crisis in American higher education. Business leaders and army generals, artists and scientists are all trying to figure out how to build on what is working in our universities and to get rid of those things that have outlived their usefulness. What kind of college experience best prepares our young men and women for the challenges ahead? [ Read More ]

November 6, 2009 - The Huffington Post
Remember the Maine Elections

The disappointment was clear enough. The turnout in Virginia and New Jersey ensured that the progressive wave some of us last year thought might wash across the country had a strong undertow, or at least a rip current. The noise came from the shrill predictions that now there is a fresh conservative tide returning to wash away the hopes for change. [ Read More ]

November 6, 2008 - The Huffington Post
Bringing the Stories Together

The day before the election I attended our local Chamber of Commerce's annual Veterans' breakfast. One of our students who has received a new scholarship for vets was kind enough to attend with our Wesleyan University contingent... [ Read More ]

October 31, 2008 - The Huffington Post
Participation as Education

Although universities have often been sites of great political agitation, students have rarely played such an important a role in electoral politics. Part of the reason this has changed, we know, is that Barack Obama has generated enormous excitement among young people across the country. [ Read More ]

October 20, 2008 - The Huffington Post
In Praise of Poise

It was obvious that Senator McCain was doing whatever he could to get a rise out of his opponent, throwing everything from terrorist associations to the specter of class warfare (socialism!) at Barack. Obama smiled, occasionally shook his head with an air of bemusement, but generally refused to take the bait. [ Read More ]

October 10, 2008 - The Huffington Post
"Trust" in the Economy and Electoral Politics

Nowadays we hear the word "trust" used all the time in relation to the credit crunch and the steep decline in stock markets. It's bad enough for the economy when a business can't provide credit to a consumer. No car loan, no sales; no sales, no dealership; no dealership, no factory and so on. [ Read More ]