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The Responsible and Moral Citizen

The Common Good

Overhead image of a huge crowd of students in South Africa, by Benny Jackson.

By now you’re familiar with the story of dedicated LearningLife students, people who, term-after term, year-after-year, have attended so many courses that they have built a solid community of lifelong learners and friends. But have you heard of a participant, someone perhaps like you, stepping up and leading their own course?

“After four decades as a college teacher and a leader devoted to learning, I retired from full-time employment,” says Dr. Larry Litecky. “I craved more time devoted to my own learning and exploration of topics of personal interest. I found that the LearningLife course offerings met my need.” Piqued by their offerings, he and his wife, Donna, began enrolling in courses.

Litecky comes from a background of teaching. The author of Creating Active Learning (Community College Press, 1998), he served as Senior Academic Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs in the Minnesota State College and University system. He says, “I was a community college teacher for 20 years and took that craft very seriously. … After serving as the elected president of the Minnesota Community Colleges' Faculty Union for eight years and as the president of Century College for 12 years, I have rediscovered what I never lost: a desire to engage with other learners on a subject which matters.”

In the coming weeks, Litecky will step to the front of the room once again, this time to lead his first LearningLife course, The Common Good (begins March 18). An exploration of morality and citizenship, the course is named after a book by Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Litecky finds himself deeply invested in the concept of the common good, “grounded in a belief which sees meeting human needs rather than human wants as the highest calling for individuals and groups. The USA, for much of its history in the 20th century... seemed to embody the focus on the common good for much of the Western world. The exclusion from the common good for people of color, women, and the poor finally began to be addressed. We need to remember who we have been and who we can be.”

“The course is designed for the thoughtful citizen—individuals who want to explore the past 90 years of American history.” And while this examination of responsible citizenship and community-mindedness may brush up against contentious issues of the present day, Litecky wishes to assure his course will be open and accepting of everyone. “Participants are expected to state their own ideas without personal attacking others with whom they disagree. The goal for the students in the class, as well as for myself, is to learn more about what meets the criteria and standards for the common good.”

Published on February 20, 2019