For several decades liberal arts education has evolved in a way that is highly anticipated to provide students with information, beliefs, skills, and attitudes that will help them engage in the community effectively and significantly. The epitome of liberal education, traced from ancient Greece, is an answer to the challenges of a changing and multi-level civilisation facing the people on the continent (Shapiro & Shelley 32). With the increasing knowledge in the contemporary world, it is vital to perceive a coherent framework of what people ought to know and what they should do with the skills, attitudes, and values they acquire. Indeed, the society’s expectations and students’ behavior, experiences and desire for knowledge ought to be redefined in the context of current social and economic conditions. Despite the escalating number of students undergoing education in the liberal arts fields, several concerns regarding the purpose of knowledge acquired are raised;
Pre-professional education is driven by the interests of students in gaining skills that directly lead them to employment and narrowing down to majors rather than the expectations of the society. Liberal and profession education exists differently and has different missions; therefore, they cannot complement each other as parts of a curriculum that is integrated; the humanities do not play the primary and cohesive role like before. Also, the attempts of creating bridges between the arts and sciences have been unsuccessful. Most often, in the first two years of study as undergraduates, the students are not provided with the leadership for the curriculum of the secondary school (Cahn 14). The leaders in educational institutions are primarily preoccupied with the address to clients’ needs and fundraising. In higher education, searching for self-assessments, which are essential to the renewed mission, is rare.
The need for liberal arts
Connections between experiences of the past and the expectations of the future are vital in the contemporary world which is continuously changing. For instance, spiritual disorientation in the Eastern Europe sees the society wander between an abandoned past and unknown tomorrow with no values which can provide direction. Liberal education has a responsibility to inhibit such confusions by preparing students with the ability to mitigate change and shape their personal and society’s future with the shared values (Cahn 19). Current graduates experience a highly competitive and ever-changing world at an unprecedented rate and do not need solely one career but perhaps several. A sense of purpose and self-confidence together with a capacity and adaptability to continuous learning is crucial in coping with this change. A diversified mind with an understanding and familiarity with methods of inquiry and innovations coupled with the ability to integrate knowledge from various disciplines and experiences can perhaps provide a most lasting value than specialized training and skills, which can be outmoded over time.
Economic liberalization and information revolution spur innovation and unleash productivity, people’s significant benefits which create new challenges. In a technology-driven society and information based, people are expected to be communicators and problem-solvers. They must be able to look into situations and issues affecting the community and provide judgments to solve them. The free market economy demands individual responsibility besides expanding opportunities, hence a need for critical information assessment using evaluations and skills liberal education develops (Cahn 16). The ability to acquire, evaluate and provide judgment centred on complex issues, the competencies individuals develop create living and learning environments for a generation of students who are racially and culturally diversified.
Renewal and transformation
Promising approaches to change of liberal education encompass learning by doing, which include field study, use of community service, internships, and research projects with the aim of integrating experience and academic work application (Shapiro & Shelley 33). Learning Communities can be established to bring groups of faculty and students together to explore come up with responses to problems using multiple approaches. In addition, scholars can develop interdisciplinary models to provide opportunities for engaging students pursuing new fields of knowledge. Furthermore, the professional and liberal arts study can be integrated with providing a deep understanding of subject matters and applications.
Among the reasons for optimism include the collaboration of inter-discipline and across professions, improving the quality of education offered, optimizing student learning through initiatives to restructure the public institutions, and increasing interests in liberal arts education, and creative use of technology for learning and teaching resources. Conversely, universities and colleges are institutions that are conservative; possible change requires budget and structural transformation. It requires implementation of new ideas and understanding the unique needs, demands and directions. Therefore, acknowledgement of the evolutions in technology as an essential agent of change is crucial.
Liberal arts education and moral shaping
The role of liberal arts education is to produce individuals who are morally upright and role models in the society. It is meant to mould individuals into responsible citizens with skills, values, attitudes and abilities to provide solutions to the issues affecting the community through the application of the knowledge acquired. Liberal education is crucial in the intellectual maturity of students because; it enables young adults to recognize the social and historical context of the problems the society face, help them to think imaginatively and innovatively, build a critical foundation for an in-depth understanding of various fields of knowledge, and to promote independent critical thinking culture.
Moral thinking is an essential social goal that needs to be cultivated in young people to develop them into a good and responsible citizen. However, exercising the responsibilities and duties of citizenship and behaving morally well are skills that ought to be learned and requires an ability to analyze, reason and understand behavior and the expectations of the society. Liberal art education nurtures students’ ability to differentiate between what is wrong and right with various perspectives such as artistic, humanistic, scientific, qualitative and quantitative.
Summing up, liberal art education prepares students to be innovative and critical thinkers who are ready to reason with originality, learn to look for historical and social contexts of issues they come across, and equipped with the ability to respond to complex social and moral problems. These are individuals who are probably productive contributors to the development of the society, they are possibly to be citizens who are engaged and morally upright, and they possess qualities of civility and respect which are essential for the association and public life.
Cahn, Steven M. Classic and contemporary readings in the philosophy of education. OxfordUniversity Press. 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, (2011): 14 – 21.
Shapiro, Jeremy J., and Shelley K. Hughes. “Information literacy as a liberal art?.” Educomreview 31 (1996): 31-35.