March 13, 2017
When we speak of risk-taking, which we do often at Ursinus, we refer to taking advantage of opportunities that are presented where we can try something new, something that challenges us, something that opens up new experiences. We may find beauty, as I did. We may find a lifelong passion. We may connect the experience to another discipline and spark a striking new idea.
This culture of risk-taking is inherent in the liberal arts, which rely on critical thinking and discovery, not stagnant information. Helping students to stretch beyond their assumed limits is part of the fabric at colleges that value entrepreneurial thinking. Risk-taking emboldens our students to innovate and to achieve.
Entrepreneurship, the liberal arts and the right kind of risk-taking are not disparate concepts—they work hand in hand. In our first-year curriculum—the Common Intellectual Experience—students encounter Galileo, Descartes and Renaissance artists and other thinkers of the past. Based on evidence, reasoning and reflection, these thinkers became dissatisfied with the conclusions they’d been offered. They were not so different from contemporary entrepreneurs who experiment in their basements, in their garages and on their devices. They explored, they took risks—and ultimately, they forged their own paths.
In these pages, we profile some of our first-generation students. They have shown remarkable courage, taking a risk just by applying to college. We also show how an Ursinus education will be valuable when our graduates encounter changes in their chosen fields. We don’t know what jobs will develop in the next decades, but our graduates, with a foundation of interdisciplinary study, faculty mentoring, creative thinking and yes, risk-taking, are curious, innovative, persistent and ready to be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and leaders.
As I did in the Great Barrier Reef, our students explore unfamiliar waters, go deep, take in the landscape and come away with a new outlook, appreciation or a new way of thinking.
But thankfully, there are many ways to get below the surface without going underwater. I hope you will sample at least one of these on Alumni Weekend, April 21 to 22. Join a Common Intellectual Experience class. See our digital humanities students present “Bears Make History.” Participate in the “memorable minute” session. Take a risk. After all, you are Ursinus graduates.