Ever wonder what it would be like to study one of the oldest subjects in the world? “liberal arts” dates back to the ancient Greeks who considered a liberal arts education to be the ultimate mark of an educated person.
Although liberal arts education has long had an established place in the us higher education system. In the US, it recently resurfaced in continental Europe, where it originated.
Meanwhile, in Asia, there is a network of reputable liberal arts colleges, the Alliance of Liberal Arts Colleges (Aalau), a group that was established in November 2017.
read on for a fuller exploration of the question “what is the liberal arts?” – including everything you need to know about what studying liberal arts entails and what students can get from a liberal arts degree…
a brief history of liberal arts education
During the era of classical antiquity, the liberal arts were considered an essential education for a free individual active in civic life. at the time, this would have meant being able to participate in public debate, defend oneself and serve in court and on jury, and perform military service. at the time, the liberal arts covered just three subjects: grammar, rhetoric, and logic, known collectively as the trivium.
this was expanded in medieval times to include four more subjects: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, called quadrivium, so there were seven liberal arts subjects in the medieval liberal arts curriculum.
Considerably more difficult than the trivium, the quadrivium was used to prepare its students for the more serious study of philosophy and theology.
The goal of a liberal arts education was to produce a virtuous and ethical person, knowledgeable in many fields and highly articulated.
However, modern liberal arts curricula allow students to study a much broader range of subjects, but still retain the core goals of traditional liberal arts curricula: to develop well-rounded people with general knowledge of a wide range of subjects. subjects. and with mastery of a variety of transferable skills.
what is liberal arts education today?
so, in a modern context, what is a liberal arts education? there are now many topics that fall within the broad scope of the category; A typical liberal arts degree program is interdisciplinary, covering topics within the humanities as well as the social, natural, and formal sciences. There are differences in the particular subjects included in liberal arts degree programs at different institutions. however, it is generally accepted that the liberal arts spectrum covers the following fields:
- humanities: includes art, literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, ethics, modern foreign languages, music, drama, oratory, classical languages (Latin/Greek), etc.
- social sciences: includes history, psychology, law, sociology, politics, gender studies, anthropology, economics, geography, business computing, etc.
- natural sciences: includes astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, botany, archaeology, zoology, geology, earth sciences, etc.
- formal sciences: includes mathematics, logic, statistics, etc.
- preparation to work in a variety of sectors: you will gain a solid foundation knowledge in a broader range of subjects than if you had to obtain a specialized degree in a single subject or vocation .
- Introduction to Career Options: The range of subjects taught in a liberal arts degree program means that students can be introduced to subjects they might not otherwise have encountered, which allowing them to make a more informed decision when choosing their preferred career path.
- stepping stone to other careers: the knowledge gained during a liberal arts education can help you better move from your current career to another.
- Liberal Arts Degrees Appeal to Employers: Employers recognize that liberal arts graduates have the transferable skills needed to adapt to a changing workplace.
- Provides a foundation for graduate study: A prospective graduate student with a liberal arts background will have the ability to learn in a diverse field of study, with the background knowledge to enter directly into graduate studies. graduate degree in any subject they choose.
- Provides skills to become a valued member of the community: A liberal arts education extends beyond academia and the workplace to provide graduates with the qualities necessary to enable them to adapt and thrive in the world, communicate with and understand other members of the community, and have a broader perspective.
- Academy: The interdisciplinary knowledge and skills gained from a liberal arts education will give you an added dimension as you explore, research, and/or teach a chosen subject.
- art: photography, commercial art, painting, interior design, graphic and visual design
- Education: Earn additional qualifications to become a teacher, where you can use your extensive knowledge to help a wider variety of students or to teach a wider variety of subjects.
- Interpreter: Many liberal arts students learn at least one foreign language, which can help them become a qualified translator, transcriptionist, or interpreter, become a foreign language teacher or journalist, or work in the tourism and travel industry.
- marketing: Whether you choose advertising, promotions, public relations, journalism, news editing, or writing, the humanities topics you covered will help you better understand people, while your skills of communication will help you to be better. Got it.
- political science: careers in this field include law, public policy, politics, business, and work for NGOs and charities.
- Other Careers: Biology (Health, Lab Assistant, Research Assistant), Business (Entrepreneur, Store Manager, Salesperson), Event Planning, Environment (Conservation, Public Policy), Finance (banker, accountant, financial analyst), law enforcement, research analysis (combining statistics and psychology), and social services (such as counseling or therapy).
- Around the world, advocates of liberal arts education criticize educational formats and curricula of other degree programs for overemphasizing technical skills while neglecting other vital skills. A liberal arts degree will offer you a wide range of highly sought-after skills, some of which are outlined below: analytical, evaluative, critical, and creative thinking skills
- effective oral and written communication skills
- problem solving skills and pattern intelligence
- ability to learn and synthesize new ideas
- experience in quantitative and qualitative data analysis
- critical and reflective reading skills
- number skills
- effective investigative skills
- organization and time management skills
- information literacy skills
- ability to easily adapt to situations
- skills to make ethical decisions
- ability to ask meaningful questions
- ability to work in a team
- self-confidence and self-understanding
- ability to be sensitive to others and tolerant of cultural differences
- foreign language skills and intercultural knowledge
The term “liberal arts education” can also be applied to the dedicated study of just one of the above subjects (for example, a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy might be said to be pursuing a liberal arts education). In general, however, the term refers to degree programs that aim to provide a broader spectrum of knowledge and skills.
liberal arts studies in the united states
Today, liberal arts degrees are offered more frequently in the United States. There are hundreds of dedicated liberal arts colleges in the United States, with even more institutions offering a liberal arts program along with other options.
While some colleges now offer a one-year liberal arts associate’s degree, it is more common than liberal arts degrees in the us. uu. earned during four years of full-time study. Students earn a BA or BSC certification and can then progress to graduate school or professional school. Some students may also choose to major by choosing a major or minor in a specific area (common majors include business, law, communication, research, and politics).
liberal arts colleges in the united states
There are some notable differences between liberal arts colleges and other universities in the United States. Liberal arts colleges typically rely heavily on student engagement and encourage a high level of interaction, mentorship, and collaboration between students and teachers.
While universities tend to prioritize research, liberal arts colleges have more staff members dedicated to full-time teaching, rather than a mix of graduate student teaching assistants and research faculty. most liberal arts colleges are small and residential, with smaller enrollment and class sizes and lower student-to-faculty ratios, with faculty becoming mentors and even research partners with their students.
liberal arts education in europe
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Although the liberal arts concept originated in Europe, it is much less prevalent today than in the United States, although liberal arts degrees have become more widely available in recent years. Right now, less than half of European countries have liberal arts colleges or universities with a liberal arts degree program; namely, Bulgaria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Of these, only the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany have more than one institution offering liberal arts degrees.
what are the benefits of a liberal arts education?
If you’re still not sure if a liberal arts degree is for you, here are some of the key benefits of a liberal arts degree:
what jobs can you get with a liberal studies degree?
Instead of choosing a major early in their career, liberal arts students are more likely to focus on learning as much as they can about the world around them, opening up opportunities in many industry sectors.
While some of the following careers require higher education (such as a master’s or doctorate), some typical careers with a liberal arts degree include:
skills gained from a liberal arts degree
This article was originally published in January 2014. It was last updated in January 2020.
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