The complexity of the new and emerging social, political and economic order is at once exhilarating and intimidating. The highly integrated societies of the 21st Century offer vast new opportunities for the ambitious and the well prepared. As we embrace the ever-accelerating rate of change, acquiring broad perspectives, meaningful knowledge and functional ingenuity are no longer luxuries afforded the few, but essential skills required for all who wish to succeed and contribute in our rapidly evolving world.
It is the liberally educated who are the engines of change! And it is we who are most prepared to adapt and succeed in a diverse and dynamic society. We who are intrinsically motivated and equipped to transform the future through informed inquiry, research, creativity and reason—all hallmarks of the liberal arts and sciences.
We need to be nimble, adaptable and resilient to prepare for the next generation of careers. Careers that have yet to be invented—yet to be imagined. It is the broad and deep education offered by the liberal arts and sciences that provides a platform for our future successes. Leaders of sound judgment; decision-makers who collaborate and cooperate (watchwords for a new generation); disciplined researchers; powerful teachers, creative engineers, inspired artists and designers; indeed, all who have the ability to view their disciplinary expertise through the demanding lens of change. This is the unique and powerful course of study advanced through liberal learning.
Steeped in the great educational traditions, the study of the liberal arts and sciences is a progressive, imaginative and useful way to understand and participate in our world. Practical as well as intrinsically valuable, when educated in liberal arts we become sharp thinkers, sophisticated writers, savvy problem solvers and able communicators. It is a course study more relevant now than ever; developing essential skills, enlivening our spirits, broadening our minds and preparing us for an uncertain future—yet, certain in the knowledge that we will be prepared.
This study will not be easy, nor should it be. But its rewards are great and lasting. For it is not any one thing or one skill that will shape our future; it will be shaped by those armed with a rich storehouse of knowledge, abilities and perspectives—by those who desire to grow, to work, to serve, to make a difference.
Why Liberal Arts?
At the heart of the liberal arts and sciences is the conviction that a broad and deep education is transformative – they free us from our limited personal perspectives by expanding our interests beyond ourselves, beyond our bias and subjectivity. The mind of the liberally educated person is free from constraints imposed by the conventional and the mundane while holding dear a fierce curiosity and appreciation for the unknown.
The study of the liberal arts and sciences is at once practical and intrinsically valuable. In the most practical sense, those educated in the liberal arts become sharp thinkers, sophisticated writers, savvy problem solvers and able communicators. They are inventive and resourceful, possessing the means to inquire, to research, to analyze and to reason. Those steeped in liberal learning value working together—acknowledging that collaboration and cooperation is often the best means to the best ends. This vast array of skills is highly valued in the marketplace of today (and tomorrow). Moreover, the acquisition of these and other skills engenders confidence; and this informed confidence inspires productive citizens, skillful leaders and the open exchange of ideas.
Those who are transformed by the liberal arts and sciences discover passion and inspiration walking hand-in-hand with research and reason—the creative impulse integrated with rational thought and both equally respected. This broad and deep education allows us to be at home in all lands and all ages; to hold Nature a familiar acquaintance and Art a cherished friend; to invite technology into our daily lives; to carry the keys of the world's library in our pockets.
In short, the liberal arts are not valuable because they are useful, or influential, or beautiful, or lucrative—though they are often all these things—the liberal arts find their rich value in developing essential skills, enlivening the spirit and broadening the mind to inform and transform the willing student.