"Do the `great books' of Western civilization, from Plato to Nietzsche, belong at the core of liberal education in America?" "What is the central purpose of liberal education?"

Brigham Young University will present a conference titled, "America, the West, and the Liberal Arts" Feb. 21-23 to present different perspectives on these questions. Several sessions are open to the university community and the public, but others require registration. For more information, call Ralph C. Hancock at 378-3302.Hancock, assistant professor of political science at BYU and conference organizer, said,"There's a political and intellectual movement sometimes associated with labels such as multiculturalism and postmodernism. On political and intellectual grounds, it (the movement) attacks the traditional ideas of a core curriculum of great books and great authors such as Plato, Shakespeare and Marx."

The conference is meant to discuss these issues and to examine the question of whether and how the traditional curriculum might be defended, Hancock says.

Michael Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Duke University, will give the keynote address Feb. 21 at 11 a.m. in 375 Wilkinson Center. His address, "Western Civilization and American Culture," is open to the public.

Hancock will speak at 10 a.m. Feb. 22 in the Varsity Theatre, Wilkinson Center. Hancock's lecture, "Tocqueville on Liberal Education and American Democracy," is also open to the public.

Harvey C. Mansfield Jr., a professor of government at Harvard University, will speak at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 about "The Unfinished Revolution."

The questions explored at "America, the West, and the Liberal Arts" will be further discussed at a conference May 22-25, Hancock said.