The Wisdom Page 



by Alan Nordstrom

Once you have learned basic knowledge and skills in primary and secondary schooling, and you then choose to attend college, you ought to expect more than just more of the same.

Of course, you should expect to grow more expert in an academic discipline of your inclining, whether literature or physics or philosophy or some other established “field of learning.” 

And, yes, you should expect to widen your “general education” by sampling at a higher level the wares of other scholarly studies.

But, most essentially, you should be guided, encouraged, and exhorted to think discerningly about the future, about the question of where our human race is headed, about the frontiers of human inquiry and endeavor—more so now than ever before.

Since our race has very recently grown so powerful and dangerous that we now threaten the viability of our planetary ecosystem, we must perforce wise up.  We’re now too smart not to be wise.

The prudence or foresight of wisdom must now guide humankind to preserve and enhance what sustains life on Earth at the highest levels of thriving and flourishing, which implies that we must learn to quell those reckless human tendencies now urging us toward chaos—the lusts and rages of heedless egoism and self-service, personified most recently in Bernie Madoff, who has just driven himself and a herd of hapless lemmings off a cliff.

That same madness, expressed in numerous other guises, infects much of humanity and must be cured.  Thus the search for sanity stands foremost among the frontiers we confront as a race: learning how to be healthy, well and whole (all words from one root—as well as holy)—the essence of wisdom.

For these reasons, Rollins College is now considering a general education program oriented to explore the “human frontiers,” the leading edges of learning and research where breakthroughs into new perspectives and paradigms can lead to new behaviors and institutions helping us to grow, worldwide, in wellness and wisdom.

Human Frontier Studies address change and transition: individuality, socially, culturally and in all other ways that human beings experience shifts from one mode to another.  The “big ideas” underlying this curriculum are evolution and progress, both of them contentious terms: how does evolution transpire from one form to another, and what kinds of changes should be deemed progressive?

The impetus for developing this program comes from considering the uniquely rapid rate of change now propelled by globalized human activities and incited by science and technology that give us unprecedented transformative powers affecting all Earth’s organisms, potentially imperiling them—ourselves included.  In general, we now realize that the voyage of Spaceship Earth is our responsibility to keep on a course of survival and thriving, which means we need to learn how to govern ourselves and it more consciously and wisely than ever before.

Therefore, Human Frontier studies takes as its mission investigating the leading edges or frontiers of many subjects vital to the well-being of life on Earth, most especially to the wholesome development of our own upstart and still immature species.  For us, the chief exploration lies at the frontier of wisdom.

For more information about the Rollins Plan/Human Frontiers program, please contact its coordinator, Prof. Alan Nordstrom (