Throughout its existence, the Association for Core Texts and Courses (ACTC) has asserted its commitment to the need for humans to come together to speak about the scientific, the political, and the artistic in order to live together in an enlightened fashion. In 2004, ACTC's Tenth Annual Conference convened to re-affirm and re-examine the value of serious reading and discussion focused through core texts. Participants articulated the various ways by which core text education in the liberal arts constructs and supports different expressions of community on college campuses around the world. Presenters asked whether it is better to contemplate the arts simply as expressions of cultures and traditions or to cultivate them, taking the risk that what is valued in artistic expressions might be changed by the inventions of teachers and the students they encourage. The essays collected here reflect the responses of the diverse group of ACTC's members, all of whom support the idea of liberal core text education with the self-conscious awareness of the challenges facing liberal education in the modern academy.
Ronald J. Weber has been the director of the humanities (formerly Western Civilization) program at the University of Texas at El Paso since 1997. His Ph.D. is in ancient history from the University of Wisconsin. J. Scott Lee has been the executive director and co-founder of the Association for Core Texts and Courses since 1994. His Ph.D. is from the Committee on the History of Culture, the University of Chicago.