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.
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.
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 //www.liberalarts.wabash.edu/study-overview/
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.
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.
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.
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 //chronicle.com/article/Bringing-the-Liberal-Arts-to/229671/
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.