Liberal arts education

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Philosophia et septem artes liberales, The seven liberal arts – Picture from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)

The liberal arts (Latin: artes liberales) are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person (a citizen) to know in order to take an active part in civic life. In Ancient Greece this included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service (slaves and resident aliens were by definition excluded from the duties and responsibilities of citizenship). The aim of these studies was to produce a virtuous, knowledgeable, and articulate person. Grammar, rhetoric, and logic were the core liberal arts. During medieval times, when learning came under the purview of the Church, these subjects (called the Trivium) were extended to include the four other classical subjects of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (which included the study of astrology). This extension was called the Quadrivium, and these well defined subjects originated during classical times. Together the Trivium and Quadrivium constituted the seven liberal arts of the medieval university curriculum. In the Renaissance, the Italian humanists, who in many respects continued the grammatical and rhetorical traditions of the Middle Ages, rechristened the old Trivium with a new and more ambitious name: Studia humanitatis, and also increased its scope. They excluded logic and added to the traditional Latin grammar and rhetoric not only history, Greek, and moral philosophy (ethics), but made poetry, once a sequel of grammar and rhetoric, the most important member of the whole group.[1] The educational curriculum of humanism spread throughout Europe during the sixteenth century and became the educational foundation for the schooling of European elites, the functionaries of political administration, the clergy of the various legally recognized churches, and the learned professions of law and medicine.[2] The ideal of a liberal arts, or humanistic education grounded in classical languages and literature, persisted until the middle of the twentieth century.

In modern times, liberal arts education is a term that can be interpreted in different ways. It can refer to certain areas of literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, psychology, and science.[3] It can also refer to studies on a liberal arts degree program. For example, Harvard University offers a Master of Liberal Arts degree, which covers biological and social sciences as well as the humanities.[4] For both interpretations, the term generally refers to matters not relating to the professional, vocational, or technical curricula.

History[edit]

In classical antiquity, the "liberal arts" denoted those subjects of study that were considered essential for a free person (Latin: liber, "free")[5] to master in order to acquire those qualities that distinguished a free person from slaves[citation needed] - the latter of whom formed the greater number of the population in the classical world. Contrary to popular belief, freeborn girls were as likely to receive formal education as boys, especially during the Roman Empire—unlike the lack of education, or purely manual/technical skills, proper to a slave.[6] The "liberal arts" or "liberal pursuits" (Latin liberalia studia) were already so called in formal education during the Roman Empire; for example, Seneca the Younger discusses liberal arts in education from a critical Stoic point of view in Moral Epistle 88.[7] The subjects that would become the standard "Liberal Arts" in Roman and Medieval times already comprised the basic curriculum in the enkuklios paideia or "education in a circle" of late Classical and Hellenistic Greece.

In the 5th century AD, Martianus Capella defined the seven Liberal Arts as: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. In the medieval Western university, the seven liberal arts were divided in two parts:[8][9]

  1. grammar
  2. logic
  3. rhetoric
  1. arithmetic
  2. geometry
  3. music
  4. astronomy, often called astrology; both modern senses were covered

Modern usage[edit]

Mathematics, science, arts, and language can all be considered part of the liberal arts.[citation needed] Some subsections of the liberal arts are trivium—the verbal arts: logic, grammar, and rhetoric; and quadrivium—the numerical arts: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Analyzing and interpreting information is also studied.

Academic areas that can be associated with the term liberal arts include:

School structure[edit]

The liberal arts education prepares the student for higher education at a university. They are thus meant for the more academically minded students. In addition to the usual curriculum, students of a liberal arts education often study Latin and Ancient Greek.

Some liberal arts education provide general education, others have a specific focus. (This also differs from country to country.) The four traditional branches are:

Curricula differ from school to school, but generally include language, mathematics, informatics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, art (as well as crafts and design), music, history, philosophy, civics / citizenship,[10] social sciences, and several foreign languages.

Schools concentrate not only on academic subjects, but on producing well-rounded individuals, so physical education and religion or ethics are compulsory, even in non-denominational schools which are prevalent. For example, the German constitution guarantees the separation of church and state, so although religion or ethics classes are compulsory, students may choose to study a specific religion or none at all.

Today, a number of other areas of specialization exist, such as gymnasiums specializing in economics, technology or domestic sciences. In some countries, there is a notion of progymnasium, which is equivalent to beginning classes of the full gymnasium, with the rights to continue education in a gymnasium. Here, the prefix "pro" indicates that this curriculum precedes normal gymnasium studies.

In the United States[edit]

In the United States, liberal arts colleges are schools emphasizing undergraduate study in the liberal arts.[11] Traditionally earned over four years of full-time study, some universities such as Saint Leo University,[12] Pennsylvania State University,[13] Florida Institute of Technology[14] and New England College[15] have begun to offer an associate degree in liberal arts. Most students earn either[dubious ] a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science[citation needed][original research?] degree; on completing undergraduate study, students might progress to either a graduate school or a professional school (public administration, engineering, business, law, medicine, theology). The teaching is Socratic, typically with small classes, and often has a lower student-to-teacher ratio than at large universities; professors teaching classes are allowed to concentrate more on their teaching responsibilities than primary research professors or graduate student teaching assistants, in contrast to the instruction common in universities.[original research?][citation needed]

In Europe[edit]

Despite the European origin of the liberal arts college,[16] the term liberal arts college usually denotes liberal arts colleges in the United States. Only recently, some efforts have been undertaken to "re-import" liberal arts education to continental Europe, as with Leiden University College The Hague, University College Utrecht, University College Maastricht, Amsterdam University College, Roosevelt Academy (now University College Roosevelt), Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts, and the European College of Liberal Arts. As well as the colleges listed above, some universities in the Netherlands offer bachelors programs in Liberal Arts and Sciences (Tilburg University). In the United Kingdom, King's College London and University College London launched liberal arts programmes in 2012. It is the curriculum of Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan for Bachelors, the only institute in the country which offers this program.

Liberal arts (as a degree program) is just beginning to establish itself in Europe. For example, University College Dublin offers the degree, as does St. Marys University College Belfast, both institutions coincidentally on the island of Ireland. In the Netherlands, universities have opened constituent liberal arts colleges under the terminology university college since the late 1990s. It has been suggested that the liberal arts degree may become part of mainstream education provision in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other European countries. In 1999, the European College of Liberal Arts (now Bard College Berlin) was founded in Berlin [17] and in 2009 it introduced a 4-year Bachelor of Arts program in Value Studies taught in English,[18] leading to an interdisciplinary degree in the humanities. In 2010 the University of Winchester introduced its Modern Liberal Arts[19] undergraduate program, the first of its kind in the UK. In 2012, University College London began its interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences BASc degree (which has kinship with the liberal arts model) with 80 students.[20] King's College London launched the BA Liberal Arts, which has a slant towards arts, humanities and social sciences subjects.[21] The New College of the Humanities also launched a new liberal education programme. The four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences at University College Freiburg is the first of its kind in Germany. It started in October 2012 with 78 students.[22] The first Liberal Arts degree program in Sweden was established at Gothenburg University in 2011,[23] followed by a Liberal Arts Bachelor Programme at Uppsala University's Campus Gotland in the autumn of 2013.[24] The first Liberal Arts program in Georgia was introduced in 2005 by American-Georgian Initiative for Liberal Education (AGILE),[25] an NGO. In collaboration with AGILE, Ilia State University[26] became the first higher education institution in Georgia to establish a liberal arts program.[27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paul Oskar Kristeller, Renaissance Thought II: Papers on Humanism and the Arts (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965), p. 178.
  2. ^ Charles G. Nauert, Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe (New Approaches to European History) (Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 172-173.
  3. ^ "Liberal Arts: Encyclopædia Britannica Concise". Encyclopædia Britannica. 
  4. ^ Master of Liberal Arts on harvard.edu. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  5. ^ Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages [1948], trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), p. 37. The classical sources include Cicero, De Oratore, I.72–73, III.127, and De re publica, I.30.
  6. ^ H. I. Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity [1948], trans. George Lamb (London: Sheed & Ward, 1956), pp. 266–67.
  7. ^ Ben Schneider. "Seneca Epistle 88". Stoics.com. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "James Burke: The Day the Universe Changed In the Light Of the Above". 
  9. ^ Wagner, David Leslie (1983). The Seven liberal arts in the Middle Ages. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253351852. Retrieved 5 January 2013.  at Questia [1]
  10. ^ this subject has different names in the different states of Germany. See de:Gemeinschaftskunde
  11. ^ "Defining Liberal Arts Education". Wabash College. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Online Liberal Arts Associate Degree". Saint Leo University. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Online Associate in Arts in Letters, Arts, and Sciences | Overview". Penn State University. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts - Liberal Arts Degree Online". Florida Institute of Technology. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Associates in Liberal Studies". New England College. 
  16. ^ Harriman, Philip (1935). "Antecedents of the Liberal Arts College". The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 6, No. 2 (1935), pp. 63–71. 
  17. ^ "Berlin's sturdiest ivory tower". Expatica.com. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  18. ^ "GERMANY: New approach to liberal studies". Universityworldnews.com. 15 March 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "BA (Hons) Modern Liberal Arts". University of Winchester. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  20. ^ "Arts and Sciences (BASc) programmes". University College London. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  21. ^ "KCL - About Liberal Arts". Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "Liberal Arts and Sciences Program (LAS)". University College Freiburg. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  23. ^ "Liberal Arts, Gothenburg University". Flov.gu.se. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  24. ^ "Liberal Arts Programme at Uppsala University"
  25. ^ "Agile". Agile.ge. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  26. ^ "ილიაუნი -მთავარი". Iliauni.edu.ge. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  27. ^ "Bachelor Degree". Iliauni. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Barzun, Jacques. The House of Intellect, Reprint Harper Perennial, 2002.
  • Blaich, Charles, Anne Bost, Ed Chan, and Richard Lynch. "Defining Liberal Arts Education." Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts, 2004.
  • Blanshard, Brand. The Uses of a Liberal Education: And Other Talks to Students. (Open Court, 1973. ISBN 0-8126-9429-5)
  • Friedlander, Jack. Measuring the Benefits of Liberal Arts Education in Washington's Community Colleges. Los Angeles: Center for the Study of Community Colleges, 1982a. (ED 217 918)
  • Grafton Anthony and Lisa Jardine. From Humanism to the Humanities: The Institutionalizing of the Liberal Arts in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-century Europe, Harvard University Press, 1987.
  • Guitton, Jean. A Student's Guide to Intellectual Work, The University of Notre Dame Press, 1964.
  • Highet, Gilbert. The Art of Teaching, Vintage Books, 1950.
  • Joseph, Sister Miriam. The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric. Paul Dry Books Inc, 2002.
  • Kimball, Bruce A. The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Documentary History. University Press Of America, 2010.
  • Kimball, Bruce A. Orators and Philosophers: A History of the Idea of Liberal Education. College Board, 1995.
  • McGrath, Charles. "What Every Student Should Know", New York Times, 8 January 2006.
  • Parker, H. "The Seven Liberal Arts," The English Historical Review, Vol. V, 1890.
  • Pfnister, Allen O. "The Role of the Liberal Arts College." The Journal of Higher Education. Vol. 55, No. 2 (March/April 1984): 145–170.
  • Reeves, Floyd W. "The Liberal-Arts College." The Journal of Higher Education. Vol. 1, No. 7 (1930): 373–380.
  • Saint-Victor, Hugh of. The Didascalicon, Columbia University Press, 1961.
  • Schall, James V. Another Sort of Learning, Ignatius Press, 1988.
  • Seidel, George. "Saving the Small College." The Journal of Higher Education. Vol. 39, No. 6 (1968): 339–342.
  • Sertillanges, A. G. The Intellectual Life, The Catholic University of America Press, 1998.
  • Winterer, Caroline.The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780–1910. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.
  • Wriston, Henry M. The Nature of a Liberal College. Lawrence University Press, 1937.
  • T. Kaori Kitao, William R. Kenan, Jr. (27 March 1999). The Usefulness Of Uselessness. Keynote Address, The 1999 Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth's Odyssey at Swarthmore College. 
  • Tubbs, N. (2011) "Know Thyself: Macrocosm and Microcosm" in Studies in Philosophy and Education Volume 30 no.1

External links[edit]