Education for citizenship has always been a cornerstone of the Liberal Arts Education at Mount Holyoke College. We believe that institutions of Higher Learning have a particular responsibility in responding to society s major challenges, through their teachings and their own actions. The challenges of the 21st century demand that we reverse the widespread feelings of apathy, impotence, and cynicism towards public and civic life and that we build a common understanding of the pressing problems of our times and of possibilities for solving them. To that effect, Mount Holyoke College founded the Center for Leadership and Public Interest Advocacy and the Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program two years ago which have merged into the Weissman Center for Leadership.

The Weissman Center for Leadership supports and initiates educational activities across the curricular and co-curricular life of the College that advance women s ability and willingness to become effective agents of change for a better world. It concentrates its activities in three areas: advancing students understanding of important issues of public concern and the possibilities for positive change, promoting students ability to apply theory to concrete problems in the community, and enhancing students analytical skills and potential for citizenship through speaking, arguing, and writing.

The Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program, under the auspices of the Weissman Center, provides support for the development of speaking and writing-intensive courses across the curriculum, ranging from history to biology to economics. In these courses, professors work to give students the critical thinking skills that they need to understand controversial issues, and to evaluate in depth their own views and the views of others. The courses foster the speaking and writing skills students need in order to express their views with control and assurance; they teach the critical evaluation of evidence and of inference, the search for missing premises and false dichotomies, and the anticipation of contrary views. By cultivating these critical intellectual skills, they foster a self-assurance and assertiveness that is founded on intellectual substance, and that will support leadership in civic discourse.

For more information on the Weissmann Center for Leadership contact Chris Benfey ( and Karen Remmler (, Co-Directors. or see Weissmann Center web site. For more information on the Speaking, Writing, and Arguing Program contact Tamara Burk, Director (