Home Community Blog Inclusion & Belonging within the Liberal Arts Tradition

By Kimi Miyashima ’09, Director of Inclusion & Belonging

During the summer, Waterford School faculty and staff read the memoir Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation by Roosevelt Montás. Montás, who was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York as a teenager, attended Columbia University for his undergraduate degree and eventually became a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum at Columbia University. Montás details ways in which Columbia University’s focus on the liberal arts tradition transformed his life and how people of all backgrounds can, and should, benefit from a liberal arts approach to education. 

Montás writes that “A liberal education is one that takes the complicated condition of human freedom seriously and addresses itself to its dilemmas and to the urgency of its lived experience. To think and reason through these kinds of questions is to learn to live with them in an honest and ongoing way.” 

As we ask students to pursue lives of meaning and purpose, we must acknowledge that this pursuit can only be optimally fulfilled when students can be their authentic selves in our classrooms and learning spaces. Thus, our pursuit of providing students with a world-class liberal arts education asks, encourages, and requires us—as educators—to intentionally create spaces to support Montás’ proposition of questioning and reasoning through the complexity of varied human experiences, continuously.

What is the value of a liberal arts education? This question enhances our equitable practices to support access to the power and promise of our mission. This question informs best approaches towards inclusivity, and this question is quintessentially central to fostering a sense of belonging in the classroom and beyond. 

I, like Montás, have a strong conviction that the ability to attain and experience a liberal arts education is coveted, and is certainly an honor and a privilege. This belief, in tandem with my personal affinity to Waterford, will always be at the forefront of my work as our Director of Inclusion and Belonging. Waterford’s deeply-intentional mission, our holistic approach to learning, and our diverse community is why I’m so thrilled to undertake this important and critical work in partnership with, and on behalf of, our school.

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