Protect Liberal Arts Education
In recent years, the disciplines of the liberal arts, once universally regarded as central to the intellectual life of the university, have been steadily moved to the periphery and increasingly threatened. See a joint statement we issued with AAC&U on this issue and add your name below to call for the protection of liberal arts education.
Institutions of higher education, if they are truly to serve as institutions of higher education, should provide more than narrow vocational training and should seek to enhance students’ capacities for lifelong learning. This is as true of open-access institutions as it is of highly selective elite colleges and universities. The disciplines of the liberal arts 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 disciplines of the liberal arts are central to the ideal of academic freedom, as well, because the liberal arts, by their nature, require free rein to pursue truth wherever it may lead.
The free search for truth and its free exposition in the liberal arts are essential components of a functioning democracy. Higher education’s contributions to the common good and to the functioning of our democracy are severely compromised when universities eliminate and diminish the liberal arts.