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Olga Shparaga arrested in Belarus




Olga Shparaga was released from the detention center on October 24. The moment she was released, officials decided to keep her in prison for another 2 weeks. Olga made a decision to escape from Belarus and informed the next day that she was finally safe in Vilnius. Moreover, she shared her plans about writing a book about Belarusian revolution, sisterhood in prisons and civil society, which was born in Belarus very recently.




Our colleague in Belarus, Olga Shparaga, co-founder of the informal educational institution ECLAB (European College of Liberal Arts Belarus) and member of the Coordination Council in Belarus has been detained and held in custody for speaking out and taking part in the regular protests against the government of Alexander Lukashenko.


Olga was first detained with her husband Alexander Adamiants, Director of the Center for European Studies (Minsk) and ECLAB. They were released but after a few days but Olga was detained again and was tried for participating in an “unauthorized mass event”. She has been transferred to Zhodina isolator prison, 60 km from Minsk. Officially, she should be released in 15 days but it is not clear whether this will happen.


We believe that the EU must uphold the right to freedom of speech wherever it may be breached. Belarus, as a successor state of the USSR, is, by implication, a signatory of the Helsinki Agreement of 1976. If Belarus is breaching its own Constitution and laws, it must be held accountable for its international commitments.


We have written to the EU Ambassador to Belarus, Dirk Schuebel, asking him to intervene in order to free Olga. We requested that the Ambassador convey to the Belarusian authorities our strong protest against the injustice that Olga is suffering. Her human right of free speech is also her right as an academic and we will not remain silent until Olga is released and can do what she does best – teach philosophy and educate young Belarusians.


As with the other detained people in Belarus, Ambassador Schuebel stands with Olga Shparaga and will be pleased to meet with her once she has been released. According to Ambassador Scheubel the EU Delegation supports the Belarusian people in their search for justice and in their aspiration to realize their fundamental democratic rights. Since 9 August, the European Union has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to end all disproportionate and unacceptable violence against peaceful demonstrators, to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained illegally, including political prisoners, and to carry out a full and transparent investigation of all alleged violations. Regrettably, the Belarusian authorities have not accepted any offers of dialogue to help to find a peaceful solution to this crisis. The EU has already imposed sanctions on 40 individuals responsible for repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists, as well as for misconduct of the electoral process and is prepared to add additional sanctions as warranted.


ECLAB has been an ECOLAS partner for several years and we have been in contact with and visited that unique institution. It has been operating for almost a decade and has provided a liberal arts type education to high school and university students through informal discussion and seminars. As an act of solidarity ECOLAS encourages its partners to appeal either to the Belarusian Embassies in their countries or to their diplomatic delegations in Belarus to protest against the arrest of our colleague. We sincerely hope that Olga will be released soon.

4th Interdisciplinary Global Governance Symposium

A partner in ECOLAS network, University of Rome Tor Vergata organizes the 4th Interdisciplinary Global Governance Symposium on July 9th, 2020. It is planned to be on line, open to all and it will host 4 distinguished international speakers to debate the word “Community” (chosen by the students before the virus breaking out). For more information, click on the conference website:

Advisory Board formed at ECOLAS

ECOLAS is pleased to announce the formation of a new Board of Advisors that will assist the Executive Board in executing the role of ECOLAS in the advancement of the Liberal Arts and Sciences in Europe. The members of the Board will serve as a critical resource by contributing their expertise and professional standing to the projects undertaken by the organisation. The five members appointed to the Board bring a diversity and wealth of experience within the context of higher education reform. ECOLAS is privileged to welcome them and looks forward to working with them to implement the aims of our consortium:


Hans Adriaansens (chair)

Hans Adriaansens is a sociologist and the founder of the first Dutch honors college, University College Utrecht. He later founded and served as dean of Roosevelt Academy (now UC Roosevelt).  He is also a co-founder of the European Consortium for Liberal Arts and Sciences (ECOLAS) and served as an Executive Director until his recent retirement.  Hans has long championed the advancement of the Liberal Arts and Sciences in Europe and is widely recognized as one of the most innovative thinkers about the future of European higher education.  While formally retired, he continues to work tirelessly for the cause of LAS both in and beyond Europe, concentrating much of his effort recently on fostering new LAS initiatives in Asia.


Bert van den Brink (University College Roosevelt)

Prof. Bert van den Brink has been Dean of University College Roosevelt in Middelburg, the Netherlands, since 2016. He is a professor of political and social philosophy at Utrecht University, of which UCR’s Liberal Arts Curriculum is part. His main expertise and interest in Liberal Arts and Sciences and Higher Education is in linking up LAS education with societal challenges, students’ personal development, engaged world citizenship, and interdisciplinary cooperation between the natural, the social, and the human sciences. Before he came to UCR he was head of the Graduate School of the Humanities at Utrecht University. Prof Van den Brink has much experience in structures of quality assurance and accreditation of academic programs at all levels of higher education. In philosophy, his work is on the normative foundations of liberalism, social justice, democracy and pluralism, and the normative grammar of social relations. Next to many articles in journals he published several books and collections, which include Recognition and Power (ed. with David Owen, OUP 2007 / 2010) and The Tragedy of Liberalism (SUNY, 2000).


Helen Brookman (King’s College London)

Dr. Brookman is currently the Director of Liberal Arts and Pro-Vice-Dean (Innovation in Education) at King’s College, London, where she has taught since 2015. She completed her academic studies at Wadham College, Oxford, and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where she worked within the interdisciplinary Victorian Studies Group. Her research interests include medievalism and feminist histories of the Humanities; she is currently Deputy Director of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies at King’s.

Her professional career has been education-focused.  She taught medieval English literature at both Oxford and Cambridge and was the recipient of a Teaching Excellence Award from the Humanities Division of the University of Oxford in 2013; she was also a recipient of a King’s College London Teaching Excellence Award for Innovation in 2019. She also publishes in the field of educational enquiry, with interests in (co)creativity and interdisciplinarity in Arts and Humanities Higher Education. She is currently chair of the UK Liberal Arts+ Network.


Carl Gombrich (London Interdisciplinary School)

Carl Gombrich has joined the London Interdisciplinary School team from University College London to lead on curriculum design, teaching and learning. Carl has degrees in Maths, Physics and Philosophy and was a professional opera singer before joining UCL in 2002. In 2010, he was appointed Programme Director of the interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (BASc) programmes and led the design, development, launch and implementation of the degree, from a first cohort of 84 students in 2012 to a steady state of over 450 students in 2018.

Carl is a regular speaker at events on interdisciplinarity and liberal arts and sciences both in the UK and abroad. He researches and writes about many themes related to contemporary interdisciplinary education, including the future of work, notions of expertise and the history of education. He was a member of the British Academy Working Group on Interdisciplinarity and a core member of the NVAO accreditation panel for the Liberal Arts and Sciences Colleges of the Netherlands. 

Carl is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Professorial Teaching Fellow of Interdisciplinary Education.


Iris van der Tuin (Utrecht University)

Iris van der Tuin is professor in Theory of Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She is also director of the School of Liberal Arts and program director of the interdisciplinary bachelor’s programme Liberal Arts and Sciences. Trained as a feminist epistemologist and working as an interdisciplinarian, she works on the intersection of philosophies of science and the humanities, cultural theory, and cultural inquiry (especially pertaining to humanities scholarship that traverses ‘the two cultures’ and reaches beyond the boundaries of academia). Iris is a keen networker within the interdisciplinary and new humanities, as well as she is interested research-informed interdisciplinary (and) liberal arts curricula. As such, the Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning is of great importance to her.

Forthcoming events will present innovations in education


As an advocate of student-centered, co-creative education, ECOLAS is happy to share the following announcement of a number of interesting events on educational innovation, organized by a number of ECOLAS members. These might be relevant for educators working at liberal arts and sciences programs across Europe.


Over the past two years, educators from 6 universities across Europe (Freiburg University, King’s College London, Leuphana University, Maastricht University,  Sciences Po, and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa) have been working together in the CREATES Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership to promote responsive, engaging and co-creative education. They have articulated and developed a number of best practices, educational tools and implementation strategies for educational innovation. These resources are intended to support and inspire higher education institutions to enhance their education, focusing on activating pedagogies and high-quality faculty, peer and self-advising. For more information about this project, please see our website:


They would love to share the results of this project with likeminded educators, and would like to invite you to attend the events we are organizing to disseminate the resources they have been working on. These events are tailored towards practical exchange and networking, focusing on the following topics:


The first event provides specific toolkits for teachers towards a co-creative classroom practice and takes place in Freiburg on March 27. Further information and the registration (until February 28th) can be found here.


The second event presents the toolkits for academic advising and takes place in Maastricht on March 31. Further information and the registration (until March 15th) can be found here.


To support the transition towards more co-creative education, the CREATES policy event will present new and innovative tools that policy makers, politicians and associations can use to encourage HEI’s to adopt student-centered learning practices. This will be held in Brussels on May 27. More information can be found here.


The final event is intended for decision-makers at higher education institutions in Europe and will be an opportunity to explore the need for, but also the challenges in, realizing a more responsive and engaged approach to learning. The event will present the CREATES approach to educational innovation, including its rationale, its principles as well as four toolkits of strategies and methods that can be used to implement it. The event will be held in Lüneburg on June 11 and 12. More information can be found here.


Please feel welcome to distribute the message across your networks and in case of any questions, please feel free to contact the project manager at:

Conference Around the Humanities to take place in Cracow, 30-31 May


Sound is the topic of the 3rd International Conference Around the Humanities which will be held from 30 to 31 May 2020 at Jagellonian University in Cracow. The conference is organised by liberal arts inspired Centre for Interdisciplinary Individual Studies in Humanities and will take place as a meeting of students and scholars from various branches of humanities and social studies.


The event invites students, doctoral candidates and researchers examineing the sound subject. The meeting aims to facilitate cooperation among researchers in different domains which opens new frontiers in research and allows scientific challenges to be seen from multiple angles.


For more information and a call for proposals, please, consult the conference website (scroll down for English). Deadline for proposals is 9 February, 2020.

Education without liberal arts is a threat to humanity, argues UBC President

University of British Columbia President and Vice-Chancellor Santa J. Ono is concerned that the liberal arts — including the sciences — are no longer held in high enough esteem in our specialized, technologized society. Being an innovative biologist, he says studying the liberal arts made him a better scholar, scientist, teacher and father. Listen to the podcast of his recent speech and interview.

Liberal Education Student Conference 2020 call for proposals

The Fifth Liberal Education Student Conference (2020) will be hosted by the European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania) on 14th-17th May. If you are a student (undergraduate, or graduate) working on topics dealing with Conference’s aims, this is your chance to present your paper (academic or non-academic) and to discuss it with fellow students from all over the world.

The call for proposals is now open and includes following topics:
1)Cultural Heritage and Liberal Arts Education;
2)Humanities in the Age of Technologies;
3)Transforming Liberal Arts Education through Civic Engagement;
4)The International Framework for Combating Climate Change;
5)Liberal arts in current political environment;
6)Performative nature of Liberal Arts Education.

The deadline for proposals is the 10th February 2020 at 23:59 CET.

Please, submit your proposals by emailing the documents in pdf format to

For more info, please, follow LESC website, send your questions to or consult LESC facebook page.

Renewal at ECOLAS

After many years of service, Prof. Dr. Hans Adriaansens, co-founder of ECOLAS and one of the pioneers of liberal education in Europe, has stepped down from the ECOLAS Executive Board. He is succeeded by Teun Dekker, Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences Education. Teun Dekker has extensive experience with liberal education, first as a student at University College Utrecht, and later as a teacher, administrator and researcher at University College Maastricht. He conducts theoretical and philosophical research concerning the nature of liberal education, as well as its social, political, and educational significance, and is an evangelist for liberal education in Maastricht, the Netherlands and Europe.

Hans Adriaansens will continue to support ECOLAS’ work, as chair of its newly created Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will provide input to the Executive Committee, but also actively participate in the advancement of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, by contributing its expertise and professional standing to a range of projects, including fundraising, consulting, and lobbying work.

The Annual Smolny International Student Conference calls for papers

It was announced that the application process has begun for the IX Annual Smolny International Student Conference “Interdisciplinarity in Science and Arts: Reality 2.0”! The conference will be held on April 17-19, 2020, at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of Saint Petersburg State University.

The detailed information on deadlines and submissions could be found in the file attached or on the conference’s website.

Call for applications: J.J.Kidd Travel Research Fellowship – 5th round (2019)

ECOLAS has launched the fifth call for applications (2019) for Julie Johnson Kidd Travel Research Fellowship. The fellowships aim to assist faculty in the liberal arts and sciences in research projects. Next to focusing on Teacher Training and Professional Development, Undergraduate Research and, Quality Standards for Liberal Arts and Sciences programmes, this year we also encourage proposals that include collaborative efforts in curriculum development.

Here you can find information about the programme and application procedure. We are pleased to receive applications until 15 December, 2019.

New Book on Core Texts in Liberal Arts & Sciences

Recent collection of essays Back to the Core by Emma Cohen de Lara, Hanke Drop (Eds.) admirably reflects the Association for Core Texts and Courses conference in Amsterdam in September 2015 from which it was generated. The watchword is inclusiveness: authors from a variety of departments are represented from across the United States and Europe, there are no limits on what texts can be examined – from Plato to Wallace – and no restrictions on the approach taken toward the text. The spirit of experimentation pervades the writing and thinking and assures the existence of the kind of seminar protocol that was first elucidated by Socrates. His only rule in conversation was for his speakers to say what they truly thought, and what better way to stimulate original thought? This is a splendid achievement for the cause of interdisciplinarity.

Association for Interdisciplinary Studies Conference is taking place in Amsterdam

Upcoming Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS) Conference is going to be held in Europe (Amsterdam, Netherlands) for the first time. Echoing with the approach of liberal education, this is an international conference for inter or transdisciplinary researchers and educators. This year the conference is hosted by the University of Amsterdam, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. This year’s theme will be Interdisciplinarity in Global Contexts and more information can be found on conference website. The conference organisers welcome proposals until 15 April, 2019.

Economic Gains of a Liberal Arts Education

Inside Higher Ed has recently published an article titled The Economic Gains (Yes, Gains) of a Liberal Arts Education.  The article, in the February 15 edition of the online resource, cites a new analysis commissioned by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that disputes the claims that a liberal arts undergraduate education hurts career prospects.  In fact, for most students, a liberal arts education leads to meaningful economic mobility over the course of their professional lives. The report summarizes: “Critics claim that a liberal arts education is worth less than the alternatives. . . especially compared to alternative options such as pre-professional programs that appear to be better rewarded in the current labor market.  Existing evidence does not support those conclusions.”  The full report as well as other Foundation reports linked to the liberal arts are found here.

Call for applications: J.J.Kidd Travel Research Fellowship – 4th round (2018)

ECOLAS is pleased to announce that it has launched the fourth call for applications (2018) for Julie Johnson Kidd Travel Research Fellowship.The fellowships were developed to assist faculty in the liberal arts and sciences in research projects. Thirty fellowships were awarded throughout the first three programme’s years. Here you can see the profiles of last year’s successful fellows. Here you can find information about the programme and application procedure. We are pleased to receive applications until 26 November, 2018.

Wabash Study Focuses on Liberal Arts Outcomes

The Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education is a longitudinal study that explores those factors that affect the outcomes of a liberal arts education.  Its two fundamental goals are:

  • “To learn what teaching practices, programs, and institutional structures support liberal arts education
  • To develop methods of assessing liberal arts education”

The Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education had two fundamental goals:

  • To learn what teaching practices, programs, and institutional structures support liberal arts education
  • To develop methods of assessing liberal arts education

A list of the twelve outcomes studied and results of the study are found at //

Duke-Kunshan University (China) Welcomes Liberal Arts Undergraduates, Names New Dean


Dr. Marcia France, Associate Provost and the John T. Herwick, M.D. Professor of Chemistry at Washington and Lee University (Virginia, USA) has been named The Inaugural Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Duke-Kunshan University, Kunshan, China.  Duke-Kunshan is a collaborative partnership between Duke University (North Carolina, USA,) and Wuhan University (Wuhan, China).  The new undergraduate degree program will welcome its first class in August, 2018.  The bachelor’s program, based on the liberal arts and sciences tradition, will emphasize critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and exploration, that is to say those skills that are integrated into liberal arts and sciences learning for the 21st century.      


Dr. France has served on the faculty and within the administration at Washington and Lee since 1994. Among her duties at Duke-Kunshan she will the development and implementation of all undergraduate academic policies help to oversee faculty development, curricular development for the undergraduate program, and quality assurance.

New ECOLAS Partner – University College London

Partnership in ECOLAS network, which lists 24 liberal arts and sciences programmes and colleges from 7 European countries, now welcomes Arts and Sciences BASc programme at University College London. Existing only for six years, they have marked down remarkable success. Almost half of their graduates continue studies in a very wide range of master’s programmes, often at elite universities (Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial College, LSE, NYU, Johns Hopkins, Sciences Po etc.).


Within the UK’s specific flexible labour market and progressive recruitment programmes, the second half of alumni who seek employment right after graduation, enter a very wide range of sectors of work from investment banking and consultancy work, to government and NGOs, to marketing, branding and PR, to heritage, cultural and educational sectors.


Dr. Carl Gombrich, the programme’s director who is nominated as a primary contact person for ECOLAS partnership, says that the range of master’s and PhD studies is extremely broad, from business and economics, through humanities and law, to sciences and engineering. The school is also proud on its graduates who do exciting things in journalism, education, arts, start-ups etc. For more information about Arts and Sciences programmes at UCL, visit their website.

Erasmus Prize for the Liberal Arts and Sciences 2018 at University College Freiburg

University College Freiburg has awarded its annual Erasmus Prize on June 6, 2018, in the Meckelhalle (Sparkasse Freiburg). This year, for the first time, the Prize was awarded to two Liberal Arts and Sciences graduates: Roosje van der Kamp from Amsterdam University College and Felisa Mesuere from University College Freiburg.


Roosje van der Kamp connects in her Bachelor thesis “A Modern Disease: A Philosophical Inquiry into Kierkegaard’s Concept of Depression and the Age of Reflection” Kierkegaard’s critique of modernity to his concept of depression and places this in the context of modern discourses on depression. By connecting philosophy with psychological and psychiatric perspectives, her work contributes to a better understanding of depression in today’s society.


Felisa Mesuere combines in her Bachelor thesis “Playing with Morals – Gender Ambiguity in Monteverdi’s Oper L’Orfeo” approaches from history, music and gender studies in order to analyze gender ambiguity in Claudio Monteverdi’s early 17th-century opera L’Orfeo. Her research focuses on the nuances of masculinity in L’Orfeo and shows that music was a ground of contestation over new forms of political organization and social arrangements.


The Erasmus Prize for Liberal Arts and Sciences is funded by the Sparkasse Freiburg-Nördlicher Breisgau and underscores the epistemological focus of the Liberal Arts and Sciences study program at University College Freiburg. The prize distinguishes research work that, in the treatment of its topic, considers questions of epistemology and/or history of science in an exemplary manner. Furthermore, the prize aims to highlight works that make a substantial contribution to methodological and theoretical discourse across disciplinary boundaries.


Another highlight of the award ceremony was the UCF lecture 2018 by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Jürgen Mittelstraß, professor of philosophy and director of the Konstanz Science Forum. His keynote speech was on: “Fröhliche Wissenschaft? Wissenschaft und Universität zwischen Erkenntnis- und Verwertungsidealen” (Joyful Science? Science And University Between the Ideals of Cognition And Utilization).

Here you can find pictures and more from this year’s ceremony and here you can find information about the Prize.

In Defense of the Liberal Arts and Sciences

Two American professional university groups have issued a strong joint statement in defense of the liberal arts and sciences. The American Association of Colleges and Universities and the American Association of University Professors, noting an ever- increasing threat reject the view that the liberal arts and sciences serve just the few and are irrelevant to the realities of the 21st century workplace: “The disciplines of the liberal arts – and the overall benefit of a liberal education – are exemplary in this regard, for they foster intellectual curiosity about questions that will never be definitively settled – questions about justice, about community, about politics and culture, about difference in every sense of the word. All college students and not solely a privileged few should have opportunities to address such questions as a critical part of their educational experience.” The statement also points to the economic benefits derived from the study of humanities in addition to their claim that the liberal arts are the best suited form of higher education to promote life-long learning. Here you can read the complete statement.

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Document 2

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Document 1

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, qui eu aliquando vulputate liberavisse, tation ponderum facilisi sed ad. Te labitur elaboraret has, pro vidit exerci voluptatibus ea. Eum eu illum oblique, mea adhuc assum qualisque ne. Ea sea debet noster vituperata.
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BLASTER – The Best Liberal Arts and Science Teaching Expanded and Reinforced




Dr. Hans Adriaansens, Dean Emeritus of University College Roosevelt and recognized as the “father” of undergraduate  liberal arts and sciences education in the Netherlands, delivered the keynote address at the recent conference, Moving Liberal Arts and Sciences Forward: The BLASTER Erasmus+ project and its Outcomes, held on October 24, 2017 at Leiden University College, The Hague.  The conference marked the end of the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership grant BLASTER sponsored by University College Roosevelt and the European Consortium of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ECOLAS) who partnered with Leiden University College The HagueUniversity of WarwickLeuphana University LüneburgBratislava International School of Liberal Arts and Vytautus Magnus University to produce new materials in the areas of Teacher Training, Undergraduate Research and Quality Standards in the liberal arts and sciences.


Speaking to a large audience of primarily Dutch professors, students and policy-makers, Adriaansens reviewed the formation and achievements of the university college system in the Netherlands over the past twenty years. He noted in particular their contribution to the improvement of undergraduate education since “the emancipation of the bachelor’s degree”, made possible by the Bologna declaration and the process of higher education reform in the European Union. He also noted the influence of the Dutch reforms in other European countries and lauded the growing interest in the liberal arts and sciences as represented in over 30 colleges and programs that make up the ECOLAS network.  Rather than rest on those laurels, however, the eminent sociologist and educator implored the audience to think of what has been accomplished as simply a halfway-station toward what he envisions as the final destination of the liberal arts and sciences.  Stressing the importance of a collegiate setting in providing the best environment for liberal arts and sciences learning, Adriaansens challenged the audience to consider the following:  “The question now is: do we settle for a situation in which only a small group of students enjoys the educational and productive power of the UC-concept, or do we take a next step in spreading the word that this combination of LAS and College is beneficial for all students who take their life seriously?”


In response to this fundamental challenge, the speaker offered five concrete suggestions as to how the bachelor stage at all universities ought to evolve:

1) Adopt of the LAS format across the board.  By recognizing that LAS is not just one among many undergraduate programs but actually the umbrella under which all undergraduates can study, students would make much better choices about their academic and professional futures when offered the opportunity to contribute to the planning of their own studies without the traditional disciplinary barriers;

2)  Adopt the collegiate structure for LAS.  By calling for the breakdown of the current disciplinary program structure, Adriaansens expresses perhaps the most bold and controversial of his suggestions to pave a way forward.   Here he insists on the necessity to create a true academic community of scholars and students in order to establish the small-scale setting within which faculty and students alike can thrive;

3) Redefine the mantra of teaching and research.  Here Adriaansens harks back to the original notion of German bildung to point out that teachers and learners doing research and acquiring knowledge together is the true essence of university education. Undergraduate liberal arts and sciences programs in Europe have clearly demonstrated the capacity of students to engage in meaningful research alongside their faculty mentors and “should be part and parcel of the university’s bachelor program.

4) Invest in a teaching and learning center.  Teaching and learning centers are critical to allowing professors to adapt and accommodate changes in pedagogical strategies going forward.  According to Adriaansens, the focus of these centers should concentrate primarily on the incorporation of digitalization and forms of blended learning as well as on the means to incorporate undergraduate research into the bachelor stage;

5) Make a career plan for undergraduate teachers.  Finally, Adriaansens advocates for a new way to evaluate the position of undergraduate faculty taking into consideration the specific objectives of the bachelor level education.  One consideration is the time that needs to be given to mastering the teaching and research skills necessary for faculty teaching primarily undergraduate students and recognizing that short-term appointments are inadequate in order to build a quality undergraduate faculty.


Adriaansens address was followed by a lively question and answer period during which he was able to elaborate on several of these issues.  In sum, the keynote address was a fittingly provocative end to the Erasmus+ BLASTER grant and provided a bold framework for the future of the liberal arts and sciences in Europe. You may read the full text of the remarks here.


The two-year Erasmus + Strategic Partnership grant, BLASTER (Best Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Expanded and Reinforced) has produced a series of important and useful tools for practitioners of the Liberal Arts and Sciences throughout the European Union.  The documents which are available on the following links include:


Guide to Emerging Liberal Arts and Sciences Practices in the EU

This booklet provides an introduction to various aspects of LAS in Europe and is aimed at a wide audience to include policy-makers, educators, HE decision-makers, teachers, students and administrators.  An introductory chapter offers a brief review of the purpose and principle characteristics of a liberal arts education followed by a section of four case studies of currently active and successful LAS models in Europe.  A final chapter provides a step-by-step process for developing an LAS curriculum as well as some preliminary suggestions on how LAS programmes may be assessed.


Learning and Teaching in the Liberal Arts

This highly useful training kit offers an overview of pedagogical methods supporting quality learning and is aimed especially to assist early career teachers in the liberal arts and sciences to design, conduct and reflect on their teaching practices and their students’ learning.  The kit also includes suggestions on how to plan and execute on-campus teaching seminars in order to expand best practices in teaching the liberal arts and sciences.


Companion to Undergraduate Research in the Liberal Arts and Sciences (CURLAS: 2017)

This important contribution to a key aspect of liberal arts and sciences education summarises the current state of undergraduate research in Europe and contains guidelines to support undergraduate students and their academic supervisors. It is a highly practical guide to the importance of research at the undergraduate level and the steps necessary to ensure its success through faculty-student collaboration. Other related outputs, such as case studies and appendices, are listed here.


Each of these documents was the focal point of four special seminars/workshops which introduced the materials produced through the BLASTER grant and demonstrated how the resources can be used in liberal arts colleges and programmes. More than 200 European educators attended the workshops hosted by:  the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts, Slovakia (Teacher Training, 25-26 May); Warwick University, UK (Undergraduate Research in the Liberal Arts, 24-25 September); Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany, 28-29 September) and Leiden University College The Hague, Netherlands, (Liberal Arts and Sciences in the 21st Century, 29 September, 2017).


ECOLAS will be actively encouraging the distribution and employment of these important materials for the advancement of the Liberal Arts and Sciences.  In addition to hosting all of the resources produced by BLASTER on our website, our first initiative is a call for proposals for the Julie Kidd Johnson Travel Research Fellowships in the areas of teacher training, undergraduate research and quality standards (deadline 30 November, 2017, apply here). Additional programmes will be announced after the first of the year.


ECOLAS is involved and helps to organize three events for those interested in Liberal Education in 2017 as part of the project BLASTER. The first of these events took place in Bratislava, Slovakia on 25-26 May 2017 (Campus of BISLA at Grösslingová 53) and was aimed at professional development of teachers in liberal arts and sciences and their pedagogical skills.


The seminar presented newly published book Learning and Teaching in the Liberal Arts which offers an overview of pedagogical methods supporting quality learning as an outcome of research on needs of university teachers. The workshop also offered opportunities and possibilities for starting a programme to train young teachers at academia.


The two days of sessions, intensive discussions, friendly debates, and enthusiasm about the topics among 50 participants from 8 countries prompted ECOLAS to offer not only a summary of the workshop lectures and mutual contacts but also to look into possibilities for cooperating in order to improve the condition, quality, and awareness of liberal arts education in Europe. In particular, the last discussion about our possible cooperation and the aim of our efforts was extremely helpful for plans and endeavors at ECOLAS.


It seems that the bachelor’s degree instituted throughout the Continent thanks to the Bologna Agreement has not reached its potential or fulfilled its expectations and it is often perceived with disdain by many educators in Europe. If there anything that can reverse this trend, and to legitimize the bachelor’s degree, it is through liberal arts education with its stress of teaching and learning, insistence on depth and breadth of knowledge, and stressing the variety of intellectual skills as the core of quality education. It was felt as a background of our conversation in Bratislava that you also care about the best ways to improve the quality of education, regardless if participants were part of a liberal arts program or a traditional university setting.


The workshop was facilitated by specialists in the field from Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Warwick, Masaryk University in Brno and BISLA based in Bratislava. The interactive sessions covered following topics: problem-based learning, stimulating interdisciplinarity, encouraging critical thinking at students and reflective and scholarly teaching. You can download their presentations herehere and here. Here you can find the event’s programme.


The Steering Committee for the Erasmus+ BLASTER project met October 19-20 at Leuphana Universität, Lüneburg, Germany, to hear progress reports on the three projects currently in development and to plan for the activities of the grant’s second year.  The committee is composed of representatives from each of the six strategic partners that make up BLASTER – University College Roosevelt (Netherlands), Leuphana Universität (Germany), Warwick University (UK), University College Leiden (Netherlands), Vytautus Magnus University (Lithuania) and the European Consortium for Liberal Arts and Sciences-ECOLAS (Slovakia).


The committee heard from the leaders of each of the three “pillars” of the grant: Quality Standards, Teacher Training and Professional Development and, Undergraduate Research.  The Quality Standards group is preparing a three-part manual aimed at educators and policy-makers interested in beginning liberal arts and sciences programmes.  The manual will address the essential characteristics and framework for LAS, case studies of current European models and information on specific quality standards for curricular, structural and organizational aspects of an LAS programme.  The manual will have both a text version and an interactive online version that will be maintained so that it can continue to serve over time as a resource for EU educators.  The Teacher Training and Professional Development group reported on two successful workshops held for faculty at BISLA (Bratislava, SK) and University College Roosevelt (Middelburg, NL). In addition, they outlined progress toward the development of a “teacher training kit” that will be made available to all institutions that aim to strengthen instruction at the undergraduate level.  The group dedicated to Undergraduate Research has held a workshop for faculty and students and is working towards the publication of a special edition of Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research (Warwick University, UK) dedicated to the work of students of the liberal arts and sciences.


The results of the work of BLASTER will be disseminated publicly in a series of “multiplier events” throughout the second half of 2017. Each of the events will introduce the intellectual outputs produced by the project that will be made available for use by students, faculty, administrators and educational policy makers across the European Higher Education Area.  Information regarding each event will be available during the spring 2017.


For further information regarding the work of BLASTER contact Laurent Boetsch at or Denise Nijhuis at

BLASTER – General Description

Strengthening the relevance and the quality of higher education is a key objective in Europe’s educational policies. Current higher education lacks the emphasis on creativity and innovation needed to prepare students for the 21st century. In addition, as a result of a lopsided emphasis on research, there are concerns about the quality of university teaching. This applies particularly to undergraduate programs, even if these form the bulk of higher education.


Liberal Arts and Sciences Programs, as they slowly (re)emerge all over Europe, hold true potential to meet these needs. They offer interdisciplinary undergraduate education, stimulating academic skills and  students’ ability to “think outside of the box”. They also emphasize teaching excellence, and bridge the divide between teaching and research in undergraduate research.


This strategic partnership brings together six of the forerunners in Liberal Arts and Sciences in Europe: University College Roosevelt, Leiden University College The Hague, Vytautas Magnus University, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Warwick University and ECOLAS. Together, these partners aim to expand and reinforce the best of Liberal Arts and Science Teaching, in order to strengthen the relevance and the quality of undergraduate education and LAS education – both by project partners and by others – in particular.


These general objectives are met via 3 activities:
* The development of LAS guidelines
* The development of a Teaching Training Kit
* The development of student and teacher undergraduate research guidelines and showcasing best practices


Each of the strategic partners has a unique expertise in one or more of these fields – quality assurance, teaching excellence and undergraduate research in LAS – which makes cooperation particularly fruitful and strengthens the combined impact. This impact is enhanced by the fact that all output will be disseminated widely: digitally (video’s, podcasts), in writing (a special issue of the Reinvention journal) and physically (in seminars and in meetings).


Put together, the project activities will not only strengthen the quality and relevance of the education in the participating institutions, and existing and aspiring LAS colleges, but also of higher education as a whole. The Dutch experience with University Colleges, for instance, demonstrates the spill-over effect of broad bachelor programmes and an emphasis on teaching excellence and undergraduate research to higher education as a whole. In doing so, this project will ultimately benefit young Europeans via offering them an education that opens their hearts and their minds, and expands their horizon beyond compare.



Current ECOLAS Initiatives


Joint activities of ECOLAS members are planned and run as part of various projects administered by liberal arts programmes from varying countries based on their specific needs and suggestions. Currently, we are approaching potential sponsors for issues common to the partners including but not limited to:

  • Teacher training and professional development
  • Small research grants for teachers
  • Undergraduate research opportunities
  • Faculty and student exchanges
  • Accreditation and organisational consultation
  • Summer school

The consortium applied for EU’s Erasmus+ programme for funding in the beginning of 2015. Its members are welcome to participate.



Past Projects:


LLP Erasmus Multilateral Project: ECOLAS – Service and Certification Institute for Liberal Arts & Sciences Colleges in Europe (2007 – 2010)


By combining the size of the Oxbridge colleges and adopting a Liberal Arts & Sciences program, project partners have succeeded in improving both the quality of the bachelor programs in their universities as well as the number of successful graduates. They have received many questions for assistance from other European universities, who, as a result of the so called Bologna agreement, are prepared to build the same type of college. The three colleges have the expertise with respect to programming and organization, but lack the funds to actually assist these universities. The universities themselves, most of them being located in Central and Eastern Europe, have too little financial means to pay for these activities. As mobility and comparability in European higher education is an important policy goal, the consortium ECOLAS hopes that funds will be made available through the LLP. The objectives included (1) establishment of Liberal Arts & Sciences Colleges throughout Europe, (2) the construction of a Liberal Arts & Sciences certificate and (3) a campaign to put the liberal arts program on the list of accreditation committees throughout the EU member countries. The impact will be improvement of undergraduate university education throughout Europe.


Coordinator: Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA)
Partners: Stichting Roosevelt Academy, Middelburg Netherlands; European Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Vesalius college vzw, Brussels, Belgium; Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria;  University of Hradec Králové

Third Liberal Education Student Conference will take place in Utrecht (NL) in May


From the 10th till 13th of May 2018, bachelor students from three different Liberal Education programs seated in Utrecht, The Netherlands, will co-host the third edition of the European Liberal Education Student Conference (LESC). They hope to welcome 110+ Liberal Education students from all over Europe to University College Utrecht Campus. Together, these students will reflect on the relation between Liberal Education and the needs of society, with a central question of the conference:


What does our changing society need from Liberal Education, and to what extent is your Liberal Education programme providing this?


Over the course of a long weekend, the students will engage in discussions, debates and lectures regarding this theme. The conference will be hinged on a number of lectures and panel debates from keynote-speakers. All students will write a contributions beforehand that will be discussed in small track sessions. Next to this, students will participate in several activities, case-studies and workshops that help them reflect on their own education programmes. Last, but certainly not least, all participants will get to know the iconic city of Utrecht through accommodation with, and personal tours from, local students.


Are you interested, or are you or your students part of a European Liberal Education program and would you like (them) to be part of this conference? Send an e-mail to and let us know! Visit for more information.

Future of European Education Echoes Liberal Arts and Sciences


The European Commission has recently released a statement setting out its vision for the creation of a European Education Area by 2025.  The statement includes several areas that are of interest to those interested in undergraduate education in the EU and the liberal arts and sciences movement in particular.


Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, states clearly the needs for Europe’s future in terms reminiscent of the very objectives of a liberal arts and sciences education: “As we look to Europe’s future, we need to equip ourselves with an ambitious, shared agenda for how we can use culture and learning as a driver for unity.  Education is the key, because it is education that equips us with the skills we need to become active members of our increasingly complex societies.  It is education that helps us adapt to a rapidly changing world, to develop a European identity, to understand other cultures and to gain the new skills one needs in a society that is mobile, multicultural and increasingly digital.” 


This statement echoes many of the characteristics of the liberal arts and sciences outlined in the recently published Guide to Emerging Liberal Arts and Sciences Practices in the EU – the cultivation of cognitive skills in problem solving, communication, analytical thinking; the importance of citizenship and its responsibilities; the cultivation of these skills to adapt to rapid change and to encourage life-long learning.


Among those aspects that the Commission designates for inclusion in a European Area of Education and related to LAS objectives are:


  1. Increasing mobility for faculty and students
  2. Greater cooperation on curricula development
  3. Promoting life-long learning
  4. Creating a network of European universities
  5. Preserving cultural heritage

For more information, see the full text of the Commission’s report.



Two vacancies at Amsterdam University College

Amsterdam University College currently has two vacancies for Head of Studies Academic Core and Head of Studies Sciences. Candidates are welcome to apply before 16 October 2017. Please see the vacancies below:





Two events hosted by BLASTER project this September

After the successful Teachers’ Training Workshop in Bratislava this May, ECOLAS takes part in two more events that are part of BLASTER project open to audience interested in liberal education:
Free symposium: Undergraduate Research in the Liberal Arts, 24–25 September, University of Warwick, UK
The event will celebrate the launch of Companion to Undergraduate Research in the Liberal Arts. It is aimed to attract teachers and leaders at academia who are interested in enhancing research profile of students at bachelor level of studies.
Introduction to Quality Standards in the Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) in Europe, Modernizing undergraduate education in Europe through LAS. 28–29 September, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany
The event will introduce a new Guide to Emerging Liberal Arts and Sciences Practices in Europe. It hopes to attract leaders of Liberal Arts programs and leaders in higher education who are considering implementation of Liberal Arts features at their institutions. All information regarding conference programme and registration can be found on the event’s website.

Conference: European Liberal Arts Education: renewal and re-formation

Friday 1st September – Saturday 2nd September 2017 at the University of Winchester, UK


Last year Amsterdam University College held a conference on the resurgence of the liberal arts and sciences and core texts courses in Europe in association with ACTC (Association of Core Texts and Courses). It brought people together around a number of important themes and questions, such as the meaning of a well-rounded liberal education, the reading of and education in core texts, pedagogy, assessment techniques and big questions. Papers and discussions ranged from exploring the content and structure of a core texts curriculum to the importance of philosophical, historical, literary and cultural traditions and texts. These discussions were not only collegiate in character; they also opened the door for further links between colleagues, programmes, teaching and research across European institutions.


The 2nd conference at the University of Winchester UK in September 2017, in cooperation with ACTC (Association of Core Texts and Courses), seeks to continue and build on these discussions. Any questions please email


On the website the deadline for proposals has passed but for any enquiries regarding submission of paper proposals as a result of publicity on the ECOLAS website please contact Rebekah Howes directly at

Second Year of Liberal Education Student Conference Again in Germany

After the great success of last year’s 1st European Liberal Education Student Conference (LESC) at Leuphana University Lüneburg, the second LESC will take place at University College Freiburg from May 04th – 7th. As last year’s topic “What is Liberal Education – and what could it be” was intentionally phrased relatively broadly, this year’s conference goes by the topic “A Complex World Needs Complex Thinking: The Potentials and Limits of Liberal Education in approaching Contemporary Challenges”. As exemplary challenges, prospective participants were asked to write a paper connecting features of Liberal Education with one of four following challenges:

  1. The Future of Health: How Long Should We Live? What Constitutes Disease?
  2. Distrust in Science and Institutionalised Authority: The Rise of Populism and Alternative Facts.
  3. Human Rights and Intersectionality: How to Balance Unity and Diversity in a Globalized World.
  4. Adapting to Technology or Adapting Technology: Labour and Power-Relations in the Digital Age.

In these four different tracks, different takes on Liberal Education will be examined considering the respective contemporary challenges. The results from the tracks will be discussed in a final student discussion, where commonalities and discrepancies between the tracks shall be given meaning.


The first track session will be devoted to conceptualising the challenge they are focused on. In the second track session, resulting educational challenges will be extracted from various facets of establishing key demands for problem-oriented Liberal Education in the last track session. Experts from the respective fields will join the track sessions to support the discussion.


Furthermore, there will be three keynote speeches over the course of the conference, that follow a similar scheme as the track sessions. The first by Prof. Dr. Heiner Schanz will open the event. Prof. Schanz has created an award winning graduate program in “Environmental Governance”; finding common ground in environmental science as well as implementing policy in this field is one of the most prominent examples of a complex global challenge. Secondly, Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt will talk about DNA-profiling in criminological practice; academic background at University College Freiburg allows her to talk not only about the faced problem but also about educational challenges. Lastly, Dr. Helen Brookman, Director of Liberal Arts & Pro-Vice-Dean at King’s College London, will talk about Liberal Education on Saturday morning to stimulate thought for the third track session as well as the final student discussion.


The conference brings together 65 student participants from 18 European programmes whose travel costs to Freiburg were sponsored by ECOLAS. Follow the conference on Facebook at or visit the website at //

ECOLAS Welcomes New Partner

ECOLAS is pleased to welcome the new BA degree programme in Global Governance at the University of Rome Tor Vergata to its newest partner.  The programme is an interdisciplinary degree option that combines Arts and Humanities, Economics, Engineering, Law, Medicine and the Sciences to help prepare professionals for the challenges of the 21st century.  Limited to 40 students, 20 Italian and 20 international, the programme is taught in English and, in addition to its small class sizes, features special seminars on globalization and governance using the vast resources of the Italian capital to invite prominent professionals to lead discussions.   Professor Gustavo Piga will serve as the campus liaison to ECOLAS.  For additional information see the programme’s website.

ECOLAS at the Global Liberal Arts Alliance Meeting

Samuel Abraham and Laurent Boetsch were recently invited to a meeting of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance at Denison University (USA) to introduce ECOLAS and its objectives to senior administrators from among the 29 institutions worldwide that make up the GLAA. Their presentation focused on the history of ECOLAS and its activities with a special section devoted to the current Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership initiative, BLASTER. The lively discussion that followed the presentation examined short-, medium-, and long-range opportunities for collaboration between ECOLAS and its affiliated institutions and the schools associated with the GLAA including issues regarding student access, mutual communication and funding strategies and faculty networking. Both consortia agreed to continue discussing possibilities of mutual collaboration.

You can read a summary of ECOLAS presentation here.

Project BLASTER at Its Halfway

BLASTER project’s Steering Committee has gathered at Leuphana University Lüneburg, 20 October, for its midterm meeting. The project partners have made progress in all three project “pillars”: Quality Standards in Liberal Arts, Teacher Training and Professional Development and, Undergraduate Research. A short report from the meeting and summary of activities up to now can be found here.

ECOLAS supports the 1st European Liberal Education Student Conference

Students of Studium Individuale from Leuphana University of Lüneburg and Liberal Arts and Sciences from University College Freiburg host the 1st European Liberal Education Student Conference (1st LESC) taking place May 12th – 15th in Lüneburg. Issues such as the future sustainablitity of universities, the contemporary importance of higher education, broad academic studies, personal development, and the ability to act responsibly will be broached. Self-responsible organisation of studies and an academic confrontation of current societal questions constitute the educational approach of a contemporary Liberal Education.


Many universities have introduced undergraduate programmes of the Liberal Arts and Sciences in the last years. The organisers of the 1st LESC now intend to investigate what the young row of European Liberal Education Colleges stands for. Does it correct undersirable developments after the Bologna reform? Or does it solely aim at preparing their students for life and work in globalised societies and labour markets?


Supported by ECOLAS financial grant, ca. 80 students and experts from all over Europe are going to gather in Lüneburg for four days in order to discuss these questions. Speakers will include Hans Adriaansens (ECOLAS Executive Board member). The Conference is held in English and was organised by and for students of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and shall thus also serve for a self-positioning: Which answer does Liberal Education present to the crisis of European Higher Education?


You are cordially invited to take part in the conference and visit e.g. one of the following events:
May 14th, 6:30-8:30pm: Panel discussion “Liberal education: The way forward?” Jürgen Kaube (Publisher Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), Katharina Dermühl (Kiron Higher Education for Refugees), Hans Adriaansens (ECOLAS, Founder of University College Utrecht and “Initiator” of the European Liberal Education movement) and Megha Harish (Student at King’s College London) debate the status quo after 15 years of Liberal Education in Europe. Volker Balli, academic director of the Individual Studies programme at Leuphana University will be moderating this highlight of an extraordinary conference.

Venue: Museum Lüneburg.


May 13th, 6:30-7:30pm: “Green Metaphysics: Sustainable liberal arts education”, Nigel Tubbs (Dean University of Winchester, England)

Venue: Lecture Hall 4, Leuphana University of Lüneburg.


May 12th, 6:30-7:30pm: “Liberal Arts as Teaching Reflective Judgment: Economic, Democratic and Personal Implications”,Teun Dekker (Dean University College Maastricht, Niederlande)

Venue: Museum Lüneburg.


For more information visit: and

Liberal Arts Programme At King’s College London Seeks Deputy Director

King’s College London is seeking an interdisciplinary academic and educator for the role of Deputy Director of its Liberal Arts programme based in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.


The post is a permanent academic lectureship with a strong focus on interdisciplinary research and education (and their mutual integration), educational leadership, and the student experience. It forms an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary activity in this innovative and rapidly growing area of undergraduate education. The successful candidate will have an interdisciplinary mindset, will be experienced and effective in undergraduate teaching and assessment, and will have a strong commitment to student learning.




Please, send your queries to

Call For Papers For The First European Liberal Education Student Conference

In the past decade many European universities have introduced new undergraduate programs based on Liberal Arts and Sciences. What is Liberal Education and what could it be? Student committees at liberal arts programs of two German universities (Leuphana University Lüneburg and University College Freiburg) announce the 1st European Liberal Education Student Conference to take place from 12th until 15th May at Leuphana University Lüneburg in Northern Germany. It will provide a platform to:

  • discuss the various perspectives of students on European Liberal Education
  • publish transparently selected conference contributions in an edited volume or academic journal
  • bring together students of the Liberal Arts & Sciences as well as like-minded people from all over Europe in the metropolitan region of Hamburg
  • start the creation of a European Liberal Education student network

Visit the conference website for more details. The call for papers is open until 29th February.

ECOLAS offers a scholarship for the advancement of teachers in liberal arts and sciences

We are pleased to announce that we have started a new initiative called ECOLAS Scholarship for the Advancement of Collaborative Teaching to help teachers with the development of their professional skills. The focus of the program is to promote innovative projects in collaborative undergraduate teaching for the improvement of student learning. Click here for more information.

First Liberal Arts and Sciences and Core Texts Conference a great success

The first Liberal Arts and Sciences and Core Texts Conference took place at Amsterdam University College from 11-12 September. Welcoming guests from around the world, the conference was a great success in opening a dialogue about the role of core texts in a liberal arts and sciences education. This innovative contribution to Dutch higher education also serves as an inspiration across the Europe.

More information, highlights and a film of the conference can be found here.

Julie Johnson Kidd Fellowships Awarded

The call for proposals for the first Julie Kidd Johnson Fellowships to be administered by ECOLAS yielded twenty-two strong applications from thirteen separate  institutions.  A broad range of topics related to liberal arts and sciences learning was represented and included projects are dedicated to teaching, research and curricular development. Ten grantees from this first round of fellowships have been awarded (see the list) and a call for new proposals will be forthcoming in early 2016.

ECOLAS Activities Will Be Coordinated and Spread By Institutional Liaisons

Owing to the increasing number of activities open to interested liberal arts and sciences colleges and programs through ECOLAS, we have recently created a network of campus liaisons to serve as the principal points of contact between their institutions and ECOLAS. Approximately 20 schools have agreed to join the liaison program which aims to improve communication within the network, increase participation among all members and provide a means of collecting and sharing important data for the three projects to be realized through BLASTER, funded by a 275,000 euros Erasmus + grant. For a full list of campus liaisons and their institutions, click here.

Erasmus+ Application by ECOLAS, University College Roosevelt and Four Other Partners Successful

ECOLAS is pleased to announce that the recent Erasmus+ grant proposal BLASTER (The Best Liberal Arts and Science Teaching Expanded and Reinforced) prepared by ECOLAS and five strategic partners – University College Roosevelt (NL), Leiden University College The Hague (NL), Warwick University (UK), Leuphana University Lüneburg (Germany) and Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania) – has been accepted and approved for funding in the amount of 275,500 euro by the Dutch National Agency Nuffic. The funds will be applied over the next two years to three project areas critical to the success and development of liberal arts and sciences programmes: 1) Quality Standards and Assessment; 2) Professional Development and Teacher Training, and; 3) Undergraduate Research. More information on the project proposal is available here.


While the strategic partnership will be responsible for the realization, dissemination and sustainability of each of the projects, we will be seeking the assistance of the entire ECOLAS network in the process of gathering ideas, data and suggestions to feed into each area. Additionally, over the two-year period of the grant there will be a number of transnational events that will be open for participation from schools outside the strategic partnership.

A Conference on Core Texts in European Educational Context in Amsterdam

The Liberal Arts and Sciences Education and Core Texts in the European Context Conference will take place on Friday and Saturday, September 11-12, at Amsterdam University College, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  The conference will examine the role of “core texts” within the framework of liberal arts and sciences education as a way to meet the challenge of modern higher education in a unique way.  Core texts are defined as those which have or are likely to stand the test of time and that provide the foundation for shared discourse within either Western or non-Western traditions.  According to the organizers, the conference welcomes papers that address “reflection on questions about the meaning of a well-rounded liberal education, the role and meaning of core texts in European higher education, pedagogical aims, teaching pedagogies, assessment techniques, the selection of texts, core texts and big questions, and so forth.”

For more information, please visit this site.

University College Roosevelt will host a seminar on teaching excellence

The Excellent Learning through Teaching Excellence seminar will take place on June 22-25 at the premises of University College Roosevelt, Middelburg, Netherlands. The seminar is organized in cooperation with Harvard University every year and is designed as a four-day intensive summer program to develop and enhance teaching excellence of senior instructors. It is looking for motivated and experienced teachers who are willing and able to spread the knowledge gained during the seminar among their colleagues. All courses are designed to inspire, motivate and teach new skills enabling teachers to get the best out of themselves and their students. All details about this opportunity can be found in this leaflet.

ECOLAS Scholarship For Teachers With Liberal Arts And Sciences Affiliation

ECOLAS is delighted to announce a new opportunity for faculty of liberal arts and sciences programmes throughout Europe.


The Julie Johnson Kidd Travel Research Fellowships aim to assist faculty in the liberal arts and sciences to carry out travel and/or research projects that will help inform their classroom teaching.  Up to ten awards of 1500€ each will be administered for the 2015-16 academic year.


The deadline for submitting the application is July 31, 2015.


More information about the fellowship is available here. The information includes application materials, a brief description of the programme as well as a few words about Julie Johnson Kidd in whose name the fellowship is awarded.

Here’s Why Nothing Prepares You for the 21st Century Like a Liberal Arts Education

The latest Forbes Magazine includes an interview with author  Fareed  Zakaria whose recent book is titled  A Defense of a Liberal Education.  You can read the entire interview here.


A recent article in the New York Times features the rise of the liberal arts in Britain and cites new programs in the liberal arts at King’s College London, University College London , the University of Exeter, the University of Birmingham and the University of Kent.  Read the entire article here.

Bringing the Liberal Arts to Engineering Education

Students in traditionally narrow disciplines sometimes overlook the value of the liberal arts but according to Lori Bordoloi and James J. Winebrake, “solving the problems of our time – eliminating hunger, preventing terrorism, minimizing our carbon footprint . . .-requires a multidisciplinary approach.”  They believe that integrating the liberal arts into engineering programs to provide the “. . .missing basics of engineering education including design and creativity teamwork and interdisciplinary thinking, and understanding the social, political, historical, and economic context of a project” is essential to a 21st century engineering education.  Read more at  //

IE University, Madrid hosts fifth annual Conference on Reinventing Higher Education

The fifth annual Conference on Reinventing Higher Education was held at IE University, Madrid, October 20-21.  Organized in collaboration with the British Council, the Conference yearly brings together university administrators, students, education policy makers and media experts to discuss issue related to the current status and future evolution of higher education, with particular attention to the EU.

King’s College hosts Liberal Arts Conference in London

King’s College, London, recently held a conference to examine current thinking in the UK about the liberal arts in universities and schools.  A key objective of the conference, titled The Future of Liberal Arts, was to discuss ideas about the place of liberal arts education in the context of the future of higher education in the UK.  In addition to participants from King’s College other contributors included representatives from St. Mary’s University College, Belfast, Leuphana Lüneburg Universität, Germany, Richmond College, London, University of Exeter, UK, Winchester University, UK, University College, London, and Imperial College, London.  You may see the conference program here.

ECOLAS cooperated on a conference hosted by Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) on liberal arts colleges

Annual ACA European Policy Seminar in 2014 was dedicated to Liberal Arts (and Sciences) education in Europe. It took place in Brussels on October 9. The conference offered five presentations on issues related to emerging liberal arts programs in the EU as well as three workshops in which students and alumni of the liberal arts shared their experience with regard to the international aspects of the liberal arts, careers available to liberal arts graduates and an examination of the liberal arts format for education.
The conference programme was made in cooperation with ECOLAS.

ECOLAS hosted a faculty development seminar

In collaboration with the Global Alliance consortium, ECOLAS has sponsored a faculty development seminar devoted to teaching practices and methods in the liberal arts including innovative and interactive approaches to classroom teaching.  The seminar took place on March 4-6, 2010, the workshops were facilitated by faculty representing the Global Alliance and was hosted by the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA).


For more information, see this website’s Events section or contact us.

ECOLAS Conference Attracts European Educators and Students

The Czech Senate in the famous Wallenstein Palace in Prague was the site of the recent European conference on liberal arts education organized by the European Consortium of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ECOLAS) and hosted by the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University in Prague, 8-9 June 2009. University educators from fifteen countries representing twenty-one liberal arts colleges and programmes as well as students from Charles University, Roosevelt Academy,  and the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts gathered to discuss the issues provoked by the conference theme, “Liberal Arts and Sciences in Europe: Bringing Bildung Back In”.


This conference represents the culmination of two years of organizing work on the part of ECOLAS which remains dedicated to the cultivation of liberal arts and sciences education throughout the European Higher Education Area. Summaries of the panel presentations will be available soon on this website. Additional information can be found in this website’s section Events.

Bologna and Liberal Arts featured in recent publication

The Fall 2008 edition of Liberal Education, a publication of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, is dedicated to “Globalization and U.S, Higher Education” and includes several articles of interest for European educators. In an issue that “explores the potential impact of the Bologna Process on higher education in the United States” articles by Clifford Adelman (Accountability “Light”: Our Version Is Going the Way of the Dollar vs. the Euro), Paul Gaston (Bologna: A Challenge for Liberal Education – and an Exceptional Opportunity) and Sheldon Rothblatt (Global Branding and the Celebrity University) are of special interest to liberal arts’ educators.
In her introductory message (Bologna Plus: The Liberal Education Advantage), AAC&U President, Carol Geary Schneider challenges European educators when she writes, “Some will point to the greater precision—criterion-referenced standards for specific disciplines—that is being attempted through the Bologna Process with its “tuning” of cross-national degree requirements. But the Bologna Process does not promise European students an integrative, cross-disciplinary liberal education that is clearly tied to the responsibilities of democratic and global citizenship. Absent that promise, both its vision and its precision are insufficient.” The entire issue is on line here.

ECOLAS Conference Features European Higher Education Policy Update

ECOLAS and Amsterdam University College hosted a two-day conference on October 30-31 for seventeen leaders from European liberal arts and sciences colleges and programs. Discussion sessions included: an introduction of ECOLAS as a consortium dedicated to the cultivation of the liberal arts and sciences within the European Higher Education Area; the role of liberal arts and sciences within the Bachelors degree cycle of the Bologna framework; a report on the recent position paper, “College Learning for the New Global Century”, produced by the American Association of Colleges and Universities; strategies for the next stage of evolution for ECOLAS including a general conference on the liberal arts and sciences to be held in April, 2009, and future funding opportunities. More information can be found among Events.