, the liberal arts publication written for and by students, just released its final issue of the 2010/11 academic year. The publication, started in Fall 2009, has garnered significant attention at Penn State and is indeed becoming one of the most unique and prominent student publications. With the upcoming 2011/12 academic year, Agora
will be getting its second president and vice president and an entirely new executive staff as many of the founding members graduate and move on from Penn State next month. Alex Lipton, who served as Agora's
philosophy department head, and Liz Crossen, Agora's
new president for the upcoming year, reflect on the meaning of Agora
in their undergraduate careers, and envision the future of the publication.
The liberal arts have a very strong emphasis on creative writing, reading comprehension, and analysis. These are essential skills, and it's important that students cultivate these during their college years. During college, many people just try to learn the facts to do well on an exam. Statistically speaking, these facts are not retained for very long - they are often "in one ear and out the other." Contrarily, improving ones' skill in creative writing, reading comprehension, and analysis is a lifelong and on-going endeavor. It requires dedication, perseverance, and attention to detail. The payoff is that these skills, unlike the facts learned for a particular test, transcend a single discipline and are universal in their nature and applicability.
Indeed, a liberal arts education cultivates skills that will stay with the individual throughout their life. Agora
has proved itself to be a creative, engaging, and inspiring means for students to further cultivate these skills. Agora
has shaped my experience in particular by providing an outlet for my creativity. I believe that while a college education can take you to the door, you have to make yourself walk through it in some way. College should be the time in ones' life when one grows profoundly as an individual and realizes their talents and strengths.
To this end, Agora
has been a way for me to channel what I've learned as a student of the liberal arts. As Agora's
philosophy editor, I've tried to present interesting and diverse material to Penn State. Though relatively young, Agora
is already Penn State's premier student magazine. Moreover, Agora's
philosophy department is the newest part of this relatively new magazine. The philosophy department has expanded and grown, much like Agora
- in an astonishingly short amount of time. Philosophy is logic, it is reasoning, it is thought, and it is everywhere. Philosophy is immensely important, for it is ultimately thoughts and ideas that have the power to progress or regress a society. For this reason I encourage all students to submit his or her written works to Agora
for consideration. Though I'm graduating, I'm looking forward to the seeing the bright future that both Agora
and its' philosophy department will enjoy.
I became involved with Agora
in early 2010 when its first issue was being released. I was so impressed by the intelligence, innovative, and fresh ideas that were being produced by this group of students, the vast majority undergraduates. I think in many ways, Agora
renewed my faith in the significance of undergraduate thought and work. I am a student focusing on three disciplines in the Liberal Arts: Sociology, Women's Studies, and African American Studies. In these disciplines, I am required to read, write, and utilize critical thinking skills constantly. I believe all of these things are so necessary and yet, under encouraged and too rarely taught or embraced during the undergraduate years. This is where I found Agora
so refreshing - it is the praxis of the liberal arts and it upholds my strong belief that the work produced by undergraduate students is inherently scholarly and academic. This publication has come to define my time as an undergraduate at Penn State. It is my intellectual outlet, it is where I have met some of my dearest friends, and it is the embodiment of what I believe higher education to be about: the sharing of ideas, the honing of skills, and the spread of intellectualism.
This upcoming academic year, I have the incredible privilege and responsibility of becoming the second president of Agora
. The first two years of this publication have proved to be incredibly successful, as we have built our reputation of excellent writing and the promotion of free thought. It is in this spirit, that new vice president Rob Turchick and myself, along with the rest of our highly talented new executive board, will continue to produce this publication with creativity, passion, and dedication to make Agora
even better and to ensure its long legacy at Penn State. I highly encourage all who are interested to come and write for Agora
. It truly has become a transformative experience for myself and the brilliant young minds that fuel this publication. Indeed Agora
lends depth not only to our experience at Penn State, but to the thought it provokes among this university's community who is reading it, discussing it, contacting us. In doing so, the community at Penn State can be engaged in a deeper, more meaningful discourse that is such a part of what higher education is all about.