Nation: The Fourth R

"How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?" asked Henry David Thoreau in Walden, that celebrated text on the discovery of inner resources. That will be one of the many texts — along with Moby-Dick and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance — in a new English lit. course offered next month by Lehigh University of Bethlehem, Pa. The course: Self-Reliance in a Technological Society.

For lab work, students will form a small company, buy a rundown house, spend three hours a week fixing it up, and then try to...

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