Recently I was teaching some of the essays by Ben Franklin (1705 or 06-1790) to my undergraduate students when it struck me that Franklin would love to have been a MALS student. In fact, he might be considered a kind of "patron saint" of MALS students. "Why?" My answer would revolve around the word "reinvent"—one of the new catchwords in the MALS branding. Ben Franklin was an expert at reinventing himself. Apprenticed first as a printer’s assistant, and later becoming a writer and publisher, Franklin allowed his curiosity and ingenuity to guide the direction of his life. Indeed, he became a “renaissance man” or—here’s a neat word—a ‘polymath’—that is, one who has knowledge about many topics, and is conversant with multiple theories or paradigms of knowing.
Lightning rod and its relationship to electricity...bifocals...Franklin stove...first lending library…postal system…fire department…glass harmonica—all initiatives of this political theorist, politician, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, wit, statesman and diplomat.
The “reinvent” in our new MALS branding (“Reinvent, transform, integrate your life and your work”) is a clear challenge to look and think in new directions, to discover latent talents, to uncover hidden desires that can morph into a fascinating MALS thesis or a new direction in one’s career or personal life. In this MALS MATTERS issue we hear from two graduates who are engaged in doing just that—one, “reinventing” herself in a new city and a new job, the other, a self-employed advertising and public relations consultant, advocating for the power and necessity of the liberal arts. And from our Editor, we have some insights and wisdom garnered from students currently in the MALS program.
As I sit in my office, I am trying to emulate my friend, Ben. Happy holidays to each of you.
Monica Weis, S.S.J.
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