Who Will Become Tomorrow’s Walter Lippmann?

A new book about one of Dwight’s earliest alums entitled Walter Lippmann, Public Economist by Craufurd D. Goodwin, came across my desk recently. Lippman was an enormous thinker. Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, social theorist, adviser to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and public philosopher, he was, indeed, a force whose writings about politics and modern democracy, foreign affairs, media, economic policy, and more helped to shape American thinking for three-quarters of the 20th Century.

Though not trained as an economist, Lippmann focused his intellectual prowess on economic issues for many years that spanned some of our country’s most difficult economic trials, leading him to become a “public economist.” Goodwin traces Lippmann’s path there, beginning with his early life, documenting that Lippmann attended Dwight’s ancestor school, The Sachs Collegiate Institute, just after the turn of the century.

The author reports that while at The Sachs Collegiate Institute (described in Dwight’s history), Lippmann distinguished himself in many ways ― academically, as editor of the school paper, a leading debater, successful athlete, and class prize winner ― demonstrating early on his intellectual capacities.

Among Goodwin’s numerous observations about Lippmann is one that speaks to the value Lippmann placed on a liberal education: “From his own experience Lippmann came increasingly to conclude that a liberal education, rather than simply intense specialization in a technical subject, was essential for the development of effective leadership in all walks of life.”

Lippmann, no doubt, would have supported the International Baccalaureate (IB), which was designed to develop open- and broad-minded, critical thinkers able to see issues and explore ideas in their larger, more complex contexts. The broad-based, international IB curriculum offers a liberal education, which empowers students to develop intellectually, as well as socially, and emotionally, into great thinkers ― the Walter Lippmanns of tomorrow.