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The ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts

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This paper takes inspiration from Confucius’s teachings on social harmony to suggest that the most salient defense of a liberal education is that it is the indispensible means by which to parlay our increasingly diverse student populations into a more harmonious global society for the 21st century and beyond. Given the ever-increasing diversity of local communities and the globality of our social and professional lives as the significance of political boundaries and local citizenship fades, traditional defenses of a liberal education on the grounds that it prepares students for meaningful participation in local democracies or that it abstractly enhances life satisfaction, while valid, are no longer sufficient. Realizing that Confucius understood diversity on many levels as essential to cultivating social and universal harmony may help to reveal greater contemporary relevance of his teachings and bolster advocacy for a liberal education.