Ever wondered what it would be like to study one of the oldest subjects in the world? The ‘Liberal Arts’ go back to the Ancient Greeks who considered a liberal arts education to be the ultimate mark of an educated person.
During the era of classical antiquity, liberal arts was considered essential education for a free individual active in civic life. At the time, this would have entailed being able to participate in public debate, defend oneself and serve in court and on juries, and perform military service. At this time, liberal arts covered only three subjects: grammar, rhetoric and logic, collectively known as the trivium.
The aim of a liberal arts education was to produce a person who was virtuous and ethical, knowledgeable in many fields and highly articulate.
Modern liberal arts curriculums, however, allow students to study a much larger range of subjects, but they still retain the core aims of the traditional liberal arts curriculums to develop well-rounded individuals with general knowledge of a wide range of subjects and with mastery of a range of transferable skills.
What is liberal arts education today?
So, in a modern context, what is a liberal arts education? There are now many subjects that fall within the broad scope of the category; a typical liberal arts school program is interdisciplinary, covering topics within the humanities, as well as social, natural and formal sciences. There are differences in the particular subjects included in liberal arts degree programs at different institutions. However, the liberal arts spectrum is generally accepted as covering the following fields:
Humanities – includes art, literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, ethics, modern foreign languages, music, theatre, speech, classical languages (Latin/Greek) etc.
Social sciences – includes history, psychology, law, sociology, politics, gender studies, anthropology, economics, geography, business informatics, etc.
Natural sciences – includes astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, botany, archaeology, zoology, geology, Earth sciences, etc.
Formal sciences – includes mathematics, logic, statistics, etc.
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