Just What Are the Liberal Arts? (The Huffington Post)



“Let us begin with what liberal education is not,” writes Associate Professor of History Cecilia Gaposchkin in a Huffington Post opinion piece on the liberal arts.

“It is not a technical training in a particular subject matter which leads to a particular job and career trajectory. It is not a nursing degree. Or an accounting degree. Or a degree in computer systems administration. That is, it is not pre-professional. This does not mean that it is does not prepare one for a career.”

What liberal education is, she writes, is an education that encompasses all the academic disciplines.

“It is a degree in thinking—in critical thinking,” Gaposchkin writes. “We say this all the time. But what, really, does this mean? And why is it valuable?

“It means that liberal education, done right and undertaken with enthusiasm, curiosity, and passion, makes you smarter. That’s right. Smarter. That is, it hones your natural skills of discernment and intellect to productive thought and the creative application of knowledge.”

Gaposchkin, who is assistant dean of faculty for pre-major advising, is a Dartmouth Public Voices fellow.

Read the full opinion piece, published 7/20/15 by The Huffington Post

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