Liberal arts meaning is “artes liberalis” which are Latin words for general skills and free person, respectively. It is the overall studies of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and formal sciences. It is the study of subjects or skills that are considered essential for a free person to enable him to participate actively in civic life including public debates and military service, among others. The core liberal arts include grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
What is a liberal arts education?
A few of you might be wondering exactly what are liberal arts. The liberal arts may vary from school to school and country to country, but the following are generally accepted to be the subjects covering it:
Humanities include art, classical languages, ethics, linguistics, literature, modern foreign languages, music, philosophy, religion, speech, and theater.
Social sciences include anthropology, business informatics, economics, gender studies, geography, history, law, politics, psychology, and sociology.
Natural sciences include biology, chemistry, physics, archaeology, geology, and earth sciences.
Finally, formal sciences include logic, mathematics, and statistics.
A student can dedicate his study on just one of the above subjects and still be considered to undertake a liberal arts education.
What is a liberal arts college?
There are notable differences between the study of the liberal arts between colleges and universities. Liberal arts colleges rely mostly on students’ participation and guarantee a high level of student-teacher interaction and cooperation. At the same time, universities prioritize research. Additionally, liberal arts colleges employ more staff members who teach full-time, have smaller and residential campuses with a lower number of enrollees. Their teachers also become their mentors and research partners.
The liberal arts are commonly offered in the U.S. which has hundreds of colleges dedicated to teaching the liberal arts and even more institutions specializing in the program. It is usually earned over four years of full-time study although some universities offer one-year associate’s degree in it. A student can choose between earning a Bachelor of Science degree or a Bachelor of Arts, and can proceed to either a graduate or professional school.
On the other hand, the liberal arts are less prevalent now in the Europe although the program actually originated in it. As of date, only half of the European countries offer the program including Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.
What are the benefits of a liberal arts education?
The liberal arts education aims to develop well-rounded individuals with general knowledge of a wide range of subjects and with mastery of a range of practical skills. The goal is to mold students to become a global citizen with the capacity to pursue lifelong learning and become valuable members of the society.
To make things more specific, the liberal arts enable students to work on a variety of sectors so they have more freedom in choosing their career path once they graduate from school and look for employment opportunities. It introduces students to subjects that may be entirely new to them adding up to their acquired knowledge and skills. And because they know a variety of subjects, they have the means to shift from one career to another with more ease than the rest.
Additionally, surveys show that 74% of CEOs in the U.S. would recommend the program to students as they recognize the necessary practical skills a liberal arts graduate has to adapt to the constant changes in the workplace. Liberal arts graduates can also go straight to a graduate or professional school in any subject they elect because they already have the necessary background and ability to learn across a diverse field of studies.
More importantly, the study of the liberal arts teaches students to become a valuable community member. It enables them to adapt and thrive in the real world, successfully communicate with all the members of the society, and generally have a broad and global perspective on life.
To make things even more specific, there is a wide array of skills that students will gain from the study of liberal arts which substantiate the above mentioned benefits. It includes adaptability skills; analytical, critical, and creative thinking skills; critical and reflective reading skills; cross-cultural knowledge; effective oral and written; communications skills; ethical decision-making skills; foreign language skills; in-depth research skills; information literacy skills; numerical skills; organization and time-management skills; problem-solving and pattern intelligence skills; quantitative and qualitative data analytical skills; self-confidence; sensibility and tolerance to cultural differences; and ability to work with or without a team.
Finally, a liberal arts graduate typically finds careers in the academia; the arts like photography, commercial arts, painting, interior design, graphic design, and visual design; education; as an interpreter; marketing like advertising, promotions, public relations, journalism, news editing, and copywriting; political science like law, public policy, politics, business, and non-government and charity work; and other career paths like biology, business, and social services.