A Call to Reinvent Liberal Arts Education: Summary

A new report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities calls for a “reinvention” of liberal arts education. The report’s authors say the traditional liberal arts model is no longer working and institutions need to find new ways to provide students with a well-rounded education.

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The Problem: “The System is Broken”

In his book, A Call to Reinvent Liberal Arts Education, Mark Livermore argues that the American higher education system is “broken.” He points to a number of problems, including:

-The decreasing value of a college degree
-The increasing cost of college
-The growing student debt crisis
-The lack of access to quality education for many Americans

Livermore argues that the liberal arts education system is “not preparing students for the 21st century workforce.” He believes that the solution is to “reinvent” liberal arts education.

In order to do this, Livermore proposes a number of changes, including:

-A focus on practical skills instead of theoretical knowledge
-An increase in the use of technology in the classroom
-A shift from full-time to part-time faculty
-A move away from the traditional four-year degree model

The Proposal: Reinvent Liberal Arts Education

A group of college presidents, including the presidents of Amherst, Bowdoin, and Wesleyan, have proposed a reinvention of liberal arts education. The proposal, which is laid out in a report called “The Road Ahead,” calls for an emphasis on teaching students “how to think,” rather than simply teaching them “what to think.” The proposal also calls for an increase in the number of students who study abroad, and a decrease in the number of students who take “gap years.”

Introduce more “practical” and “professional” courses

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about the value of a liberal arts education. Some people believe that the traditional liberal arts curriculum is too impractical and doesn’t prepare students for the “real world.” As a result, many colleges and universities have introduced more “practical” and “professional” courses into their curricula.

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While there is certainly value in learning practical skills, we believe that the liberal arts are still essential to a well-rounded education. The liberal arts teach students how to think critically and analytically, skills that are applicable in any field. In addition, the liberal arts expose students to a wide range of perspectives and viewpoints, which can help them develop empathy and understanding for others.

Wecall on all colleges and universities to reaffirm their commitment to the liberal arts. We believe that every student should have access to a well-rounded education that will prepare them for success in any field.

Encourage students to take on more “real-world” projects

One way to encourage students to take on more “real-world” projects is to have them work on problems that actually exist in the world, rather than hypothetical ones. For example, instead of having students write papers on made-up topics, you could have them work on writing grants for a local nonprofit. Or, instead of having them do research on a made-up topic, you could have them do research for a local business or government agency. Not only will this give students a chance to apply what they’re learning in a real-world setting, but it will also help to build connections between the college and the community.

Promote interdisciplinary learning

We must promote interdisciplinary learning, because no one discipline has all the answers, and because integration of knowledge is essential to solving complex problems. We must also recognize that the world is ever-changing, and that what students need to know and be able to do will also change. Our task, then, is to equip students with the skills and dispose them toward the habits of mind that will allow them to adapt to an ever-changing world.

The Potential: A More Engaged and Purposeful Society

In his essay, A Call to Reinvent Liberal Arts Education, Dr. Dennis Shirley proposes that the current model of liberal arts education is not working and that it needs to be reinvented. He believes that the current model trains students to be passive citizens who do not have a sense of purpose or engagement in the world. He believes that by reinventing liberal arts education, we can create a more engaged and purposeful society.

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A more engaged and purposeful society

A more engaged and purposeful society awaits us if we answer the call to reinvent liberal arts education. By connecting learning with life and work, we can prepare students for successful careers and meaningful lives. We must also instill in them a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

The liberal arts have always been about more than just job training. They are about developing the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. In today’s world, that means equipping students with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing, technology-driven economy. It also means preparing them to be responsible citizens who can think critically, solve problems creatively, and communicate effectively.

To meet these challenges, we must design an educational experience that is both rigorous and relevant. We must give students the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom to real-world problems. And we must provide them with the support they need to succeed—including affordable tuition, dedicated faculty, and state-of-the-art facilities.

The potential rewards of this reinvention are great. A more engaged and purposeful society awaits us if we have the courage to seize this moment.

A more diverse workforce

A more diverse workforce is an essential part of a more engaged and purposeful society. The liberal arts have a unique role to play in preparing students for the workforce of the future.

The 21st century workforce will require skills that go beyond what can be learned in a traditional academic setting. employers are increasingly looking for employees who are adaptable and can think critically, solve problems, and communicate effectively. Liberal arts education provides students with the opportunity to develop these essential skills.

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In order to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce, liberal arts education must be accessible to all students, regardless of their economic background. We must also ensure that our curriculum is relevant to the real world and that our students have the opportunity to gain practical experience through internships and other hands-on learning opportunities.

A more sustainable world

A more sustainable world will require a different kind of human being—more engaged, more adaptable, more collaborative, and more entrepreneurial. It will require us to educate for global citizenship and to prepare young people for a wide range of careers that do not yet exist. In other words, it will require us to reinvent liberal arts education.

The graying of the workforce and the accelerating pace of change are transforming the world of work. At the same time, our institutions of higher learning are coming under increasing pressure to cut costs and to demonstrate “value” in tangible ways. In response, many colleges and universities are ratcheting up their career services offerings and encouraging students to choose majors that will lead to job opportunities after graduation. But these approaches are insufficient. They fail to address the root cause of the problem: our colleges and universities are not doing enough to prepare students for an increasingly complex world and an uncertain future.

It is time for a different approach—one that is focused on developing the whole person and that recognizes the need for all students, regardless of their chosen field of study, to acquire a broad range of skills and knowledge if they are to succeed in today’s economy. We need an approach that is grounded in the liberal arts tradition but that is also responsive to the demands of the 21st century. We need to reinvent liberal arts education.

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