Monday Moments with President Bergman: October 4, 2021

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on October 4th, 2021 by

President Rebecca M. Bergman

When I was in the second grade, I decided I would read all the books in the library in my small elementary school. So, I started with the As, and by the time I moved on to middle school in sixth grade, I was somewhere in the Ss. In hindsight, in addition to realizing that I was a type-A learner at a young age, this ambitious goal exposed me to a wide variety of books and cultivated a love of reading and a curiosity for learning that has stuck with me throughout my life.

This week, I’d like to focus on the purpose of a Gustavus education as articulated in the Gustavus Mission Statement. In particular, I have been reflecting on what it means to develop a “capacity and passion for lifelong learning.” 
 
Are you curious about a variety of topics? Do you love learning? Human knowledge is expanding at a mind-boggling rate. In fact, it is estimated that the volume of knowledge is doubling every 12 hours. At the same time, the useful lifespan of knowledge continues to decrease, technology is evolving faster than ever before, and the world continues to undergo rapid, and sometimes unsettling, change. It is well known that many of the jobs of the future have not even been invented today. This all means that we need to constantly learn, unlearn, and relearn in order to stay relevant in today’s world. In this fast moving landscape, we must learn how to think critically about knowledge, develop skills and methods to analyze and synthesize knowledge, and wisely apply our insights for the benefit of society and the world. I think this all starts with cultivating a capacity and passion for lifelong learning.
 
Since the turn of the century, technology has opened up many new channels for learninge-readers, audiobooks, podcasts, documentaries, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and much, much more. And, of course, as a liberal arts institution of higher education, we continue to believe in the importance of classroom learning, where learning how to learn is cultivated and cemented as a lifelong habit.
 
This week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 57th annual Gustavus Nobel Conference is happening. The conference, “Big Data REvolution” will bring students, educators, and members of the general public together with leading thinkers of our time to explore how big data is changing our lives and what challenges and opportunities this transformation presents to us. The conference is presented virtually again this year, so please join in the fun of learning by watching the livestream starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, or take advantage of the archived lectures and discussion sessions. I’d like to encourage you to join one of the on-campus watch parties, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in Alumni Hall, Beck Hall 101, Olin Hall 103, and the Wallenberg Auditorium. This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to explore and discuss the topic of big data and its implications for our lives and our society at large.
 
Be curious. Feed your capacity and passion for lifelong learning. See you at the Nobel Conference!
 
Yours in community,
President Bergman
 

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