America is in a moment of crisis. Facing the overlapping traumas of the COVID-19 pandemic, the student debt crisis, the murder of George Floyd, and the insurrection of January 6, we as Americans have been forced to ask ourselves what we owe each other as human beings, a task made only more difficult by entrenched political polarization. In this environment, critical thinking skills are more important than ever to find meaning, make decisions, and rebuild civil discourse. In What We Value, acclaimed bioethicist Lynn Pasquerella examines urgent issues—moral distress, access to resources, and the conflict over whose voices and lives are privileged—issues with which Americans wrestle daily, arguing that liberal education is the best preparation for work, citizenship, and life in a future none of us can predict.

Drawing on examples from medical schools and university hospitals across the country, Pasquerella addresses medical ethics and public health in the wake of the pandemic. She then unpacks the current challenges surrounding free speech, equity, and inclusion on American campuses. Finally, she examines the growing racial and economic segregation in higher education, making a forceful case for the value of a liberal education in providing the skills and competencies, alongside the habits of heart and mind, required to address vexing questions about the nature of individual rights versus collective responsibility.

This vital book demonstrates how tumultuous current events reveal what we value and the ways in which a liberal education can help us to learn from one another while cultivating the personal and social responsibility necessary for furthering the common good.