University of the South Professor Sean O'Rourke has been featured by Vital Speeches of the Day, a monthly collection of the best speeches in the world.
As Director of Sewanee's new Center for Speaking & Listening, O'Rourke was invited to speak at a dedication ceremony in September.
His speech, entitled "Wisdom and Eloquence," takes its cue from the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, who in 55 BCE "saw his own republic threatened...with internal strife and intrigue, suspectible to the allure of dictatorship, and vulernable to the machinations of rogues and tyrants."
From Cicero's De Oratore, a response to this perspective on a republic in peril, O'Rourke emphasizes an "operative philosophy of civic leadership" which, "[a]t its heart was rhetoric, the art of speaking and listening well."
With an alluring charge to "answer the bigoted and uninformed tweet with reasoned, informed, and considered judgment", O'Rourke's comments on the necessity and function of a liberal education in the 21st century has rippled strongly through the world of higher education:
There. Is. No. Immaculate. Perception. Each of us will always have a somewhat different perspective on the world, its many issues and concerns, and the several routes forward. And that, while agreement on any of these points may be rare, constructive disagreement is a goal worthy of a liberally education citizen in a republic.
The full text of Prof. O'Rourke's speech can be found here.
More information on his life and work at the University of the South can be found here.