"The question in education is whether it, too, can be an end in itself and not merely a means to some other end - a better job, a more attractive mate or even, that holiest of contemporary grails, a more productive economy. The answer has to be yes. The search for understanding is as much a defining characteristic of humanity as is the search for beauty. It is, indeed, far more of a defining characteristic than the search for food or for a mate. Anybody who denies its intrinsic value also denies what makes us most fully human."1

Project Persephone's support for education for the underprivileged goes beyond helping poor students develop the technical skills required for Meeting the SPEC to create A World Worth Talking About in space. The noted historian and public intellectual, W.E.B. Du Bois emphasized the importance of the humanities, as a source of great "teachers of teachers". Without such leadership in education, he claimed, a marginalized people would be starved of the great leaders it would need, in order to rise to the level of equals, with full citizenship, wherever they were being held down. History proved Du Bois right.

Moreover, it's been repeatedly shown that small liberal arts colleges outproduce great scientists (after controlling for student body population sizes.) The reasons for this are complex, but the results are clear: students who enter small liberal arts colleges with no particular ambition to become scientists can be converted by science professors who evangelize for science as a viewport onto the beauty and wonder of Creation -- thus is the original esthetic appreciation of these students harnessed for the sciences. Such scientists can come even from very humble beginnings -- for example, George Washington Carver was born into slavery, and despite some tutoring that qualified him for college admission, was rejected on account of his race. A modest loan allowed him to enter an African-American college to study art and piano. His art teacher noticed his talent for drawing plants and recommended him to the botany department of another college. Carver became a preeminent botanist, soil scientist, and environmentalist.

The humanities can produce not only leaders, but leaders in science. Accordingly, modest grants will be available to students in schools that focus more on the humanities than on science, technology, and the more technical trades.



1 Wolf, Martin (2007) "Education is a worthwhile end in itself," The Financial Times, February 2007.

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