An education that hones professional skills and is focused on technology or business has recently gained traction as students and their families question the relevance of a broad liberal arts education. However, it would be wise to heed the words of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, who said, “Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married to the liberal arts, married to the humanities, that delivers the results that make our hearts sing. For Jobs, the liberal arts approach is essential to the success of even a technology-focused organization.
Liberal Arts Curriculum
The liberal arts curriculum derives from ancient Greece with subjects designed to foster citizenship and participation in public life. This was formalized in the European Middle Ages and Renaissance as the trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). Over time, a liberal arts education has been combined with a curriculum that facilitates interdisciplinary study.
A liberal arts and science curriculum is now ubiquitous in most institutions of higher education in the United States at the bachelor’s level. Typically, students are required to apply to general education subjects in various disciplines for approximately the first two years of undergraduate study. The spectrum spans from science, math, social science and government to history, music and literature. During the remaining two years of the four-year program, students can specialize in the subjects of their major. However, students do not have to limit themselves exclusively to a particular discipline, but can instead select interdisciplinary majors, or majors and minors. Also, although the program is called “liberal arts”, science is among the disciplines that students can study.
The way liberal arts programs are administered differs from institution to institution. Liberal arts colleges in the United States are generally private colleges with smaller class sizes centered on the liberal arts curriculum. Many larger universities also have a school or college of arts and sciences that provides a liberal arts curriculum. Even in other technical programs, a liberal arts education may be possible. For example, the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University encourages undergraduate students to take courses at other schools in the university – from the School of Arts and Sciences, as well as medical schools. , public health, music and dance.
Financial point of view
From a financial perspective, a liberal arts education may also make sense. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce conducted a study of the return on investment (ROI) of different types of educational institutions in the United States – lifetime earnings minus the cost of going to that institution. According to the study, over the long term, the median return on investment of liberal arts colleges after 40 years was higher than that of all institutions except doctoral institutions with the two highest levels of research activity. high (as classified by the Carnegie classification). Although superior, it was close to the return on investment of four-year engineering and technology institutions and business and management schools.
Skills to learn
A liberal arts education can teach a wide variety of skills essential to work. Students learn the arts of reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving. They learn to build solutions by analyzing and organizing
The data. They learn to develop a moral and ethical code by which to measure actions. They learn communication skills, logic and eloquence both orally and in writing. They learn to work in a team and to collaborate.
Anna McCullough, assistant director of international recruitment and transfer at Baker University, suggests that a liberal arts education is essential to preparing for 21st century careers. She says, “Careers in the 21st century will require flexibility from workers, as companies increasingly demand a wide variety of tasks from employees, and career switching is becoming more common. Acquiring transferable skills is crucial to maintaining flexibility: and a liberal arts education excels at teaching students these transferable skills through its holistic approach.
A liberal arts education can help students be nimble and navigate jobs that don’t yet exist. Indeed, according to research undertaken by the Strada Education Network, the combination of hard and soft skills will prepare individuals for future work. The report says human skills (as opposed to those that can be performed by a robot) such as leadership, communication and problem solving, are among the most in demand in the job market.
It is precisely these skills, essential for surviving and succeeding in the current and future workplace, that the breadth of a liberal arts education can nurture.
For more information, students can visit the EducationUSA website (https://educationusa.state.gov), and for individual questions or direct advice with an EducationUSA advisor, please write to [email protected]
The author, Deborah Rosario, is EducationUSA Advisor at USIEF Mumbai
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