“The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions… What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeeds in this, that society is about to perish. The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change and fight it – at no matter what risk. This is the only hope that society has. This is the only way societies change.”

James Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers,” 1963

“For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”

Paulo Freire

Inquiry is situated at the heart of liberal arts learning.  Increasingly, the ways that students explore, think and communicate about issues and ideas across the humanities, arts, natural and social sciences intersect with the digital.  Digital Learning endeavors to create opportunities for campus conversations about the role  of digital technologies and spaces for helping students develop as scholars, “as critical thinkers who are intellectually agile.”  Through programming, initiatives, and partnership, Digital Learning aims to engage digital approaches that help scholarly inquiry and knowledge creation forward, and digital practices and platforms that enable us to share that knowledge within a community of practice and with the general public.

Critical inquiry meaningfully informs and guides our decisions about which digital tools, platforms and practices to introduce and promote at Muhlenberg.  We understand knowledge creation as a process in which people collectively work towards critically understanding and transforming their world. This means that we ask a series of questions about digital tools as we explore their possible uses and affordances within liberal arts teaching and learning.  

  • How do digital tools and approaches help us push limits of current knowledge, create new ways of looking at and addressing problems?
  • How do digital tools and approaches help to open access to the means of scholarly inquiry and new knowledge production?
  • Given the prevalence of surveillance and control in academic and popular digital technologies, what are the risks and ethical implications of engaging digital tools for scholarly inquiry? 
  • What are effective strategies for resisting the capitalization of student data captured in their use of digital tools and platforms?
  • Where possible, how do we choose to engage open access tools to promote the liberal arts value of knowledge for the public good?

In sum, centering digital inquiry means that we promote and support the integration of digital technologies and spaces in activity that advances the College’s institutional values and commitments to the life of the mind and to knowledge in the interest of the public good.