What Is a Liberal Arts education?


‘Liberal' education, first conceptualized and articulated by the ancient greeks, was designed to educate free people. To this day, the world’s preeminent liberal arts colleges and national universities focus primarily on educating undergraduates in the liberal arts with the goal of cultivating free people, capable of participating meaningfully in humanity’s civic and intellectual destiny. By teaching students to critically traverse the broad range of complex and ever-changing domains of human inquiry, the world’s most selective colleges and universities forge adaptive, innovative leaders who are ultimately capable of wrestling with life’s most important questions.

The ancient concept of the liberal arts — which in the middle ages encompassed seven branches of knowledge, divided into what was known as the trivium and quadrivium — has grown to encircle the modern humanities and natural sciences. The scope of the liberal arts continues to evolve to reflect emerging consilience across decreasingly isolated academic departments.

Crucial to the development and the continued maintenance of a robust climate for liberal education is the principle of free and open expression. This particular social innovation, encoded into the United State’s founding documents as the right to free speech, has allowed for near-limitless, often contentious debate and robust intellectual flourishing. Western civilization’s economic preeminence and moral leadership are due in no small part to its foundational respect for academic and intellectual freedom.


Here are some links that offer different, and more detailed perspectives on the value of a liberal arts education.


This first one is a short, sweet defense of liberal arts. 

In this video, Zakaria gives an in depth defense of liberal arts

Professor Jordan B. Peterson articulates that one’s role as a university student is to craft their most important skill: to learn how to articulate in your speech. This is true as much for engineers as it is for lawyers, doctors, or artists.

Finally, check out what ‘liberal’ in liberal arts means according to one of America’s leading publishers: The Washington Post.