Doing Work that Sustains Hope
Our aim in this book is quite humble. The hope Berry offers for universities is not a grand new program or some big solution: we’re not calling for a fund-raising campaign to establish Wendell Berry University. Rather, Berry’s vision offers us a small, humble, practice-able hope. Higher education is under immense economic and cultural pressure to prepare graduates for upward and lateral mobility, regardless of the costs to our ecosystem, communities, and souls. But change can take place if we tell students different stories—stories about rooted, contented lives; about the grateful, loving pursuit of wisdom; about people who sacrificed their private ambitions to serve the health of their local places. Such stories cultivate the virtues needed to shape the knowledge students currently learn in universities. Graduates who practice the virtues of memory, gratitude, fidelity, and love will be prepared to inhabit the membership of their places. An agrarian hope for higher education, then, begins with the simple act of telling better stories, stories that might lead to renewed imaginations, a more responsible language, and faithful work that serves the health of our communities.
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