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The Importance of Western Civilization

Promethus, Texas Tech UniversityWestern civilization has remade the world. Most of the West’s inhabitants live lives of which their ancestors could only dream: doubly long, rich in diet, teeming with comforts and diversions, and, most of all, endowed with the gift of liberty – not just for a privileged few, but for the large majority. To be sure, Western civilization also has had its dark side manifest in degraded natural environments, the menace of nuclear weapons, and the nightmare of totalitarianism with its resulting repression and genocides.  Nonetheless, most non-Westerners understandably yearn for the West’s wealth and freedom, and in many quarters of the world, through enterprise and emulation, are attaining them.

What caused this metamorphosis in the human condition? Strange to say, the subject today receives little academic attention. And it is not just one interesting question among many. Addressing it is vital to ensuring our – and the world’s – continued wellbeing. Unless we comprehend the full uniqueness of Western civilization we put ourselves in grave danger of forfeiting the blessings it bestows and failing to deal wisely with the problems it has created. For Americans, whose society in many ways most fully embodies Western uniqueness and abundance, exploring this question is especially urgent. We have by far the most to lose in ignoring it.  

By establishing The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization as part of its Honors College, Texas Tech University will take the lead in returning the study of the remarkable phenomenon that is Western civilization to a central place in American education. Texas Tech’s Honors College, with its passionate commitment to liberal arts education and intellectual seriousness, is the ideal location for pursuing the Institute’s mission. The Institute will serve the Honors College and Texas Tech as a whole, by fostering research and discussion among its faculty about the nature, origins, and future of the West; by encouraging, in conjunction with the faculty of the Honors College and the university, the development of additional courses and programs on Western civilization and its classic texts; and by bringing to Texas Tech scholars for whom the study of the phenomenon of Western civilization is a major concern.

For further information regarding the importance of Western Civilization read the following article by Dr. Steve Balch: "Metamorphosis, or Why We Whould Study the West"