David E. Rohr
The Value Of Liberal Studies
Anyone who took a computer class in the 70s or 80s will remember huge stacks of punch cards and programming languages that are now less relevant to computers than Anglo-Norman is to spoken language. And if you took marketing courses prior to 1993, your education did not contain anything related to the most powerful force in modern day marketing—the Internet.
Engineering, medicine and just about every form of technology have evolved tremendously since those times when many adults received their undergraduate or graduate degrees.
But a liberal arts education is enduring and always relevant. From the Homer’s Iliad to the works of St. Augustine, ancient writings have informed and inspired centuries of people in much the same way. Read Shakespeare or any other classic literature and you are sharing an experience with both contemporaries and ancestors. Studies in the humanities have always produced relevant lessons on life and leadership.
Relevant And Adaptable
The key word in liberal studies derives from "liber," Latin for freedom. That's because the components of such an education were considered essential for free citizens to work and thrive in their societies. Today curricula such as that contained in Nazareth College's Master of Liberal Studies program also nurture tangible, relevant, go-to-work abilities.
That's because education that focuses on the humanities results in people who can investigate thoroughly, write persuasively and think deeply. Such abilities make them ideal employees not only as teachers or professors, but also as journalists, marketing staffers, attorneys and professionals in numerous other fields. In a recent article for Inside Higher Ed, former Seagram’s Corporation CEO, Edgar Bronfman cites a liberal arts degree as the most valuable preparation for people embarking on their careers. For Bronfman the key is the versatility and adaptability that come from discovering how the world works. He says, "The work place of the future requires specialized skills that will need not only educated minds, but adaptable ones."
The Freedom To Achieve At Work And Excel In Life
In April 2013, the American Association of Colleges and Universities surveyed employers about attributes most important in hiring. The results included the very fundamentals of liberal arts education: clear oral and written communication skills, critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and an ability to locate, organize and evaluate information.
But one should also consider the other benefits of liberal studies. These could include the sheer joy that comes from being a curious seeker. Or the sense of wholeness one gains from understanding the way the human condition has evolved over the centuries.
A broad knowledge foundation will enrich life in every way. It can make you a better partner, parent or community member, too. In short, the liberal studies build a treasury of talent for employers and lifetime rewards for students.
David E. Rohr (MA 2005; MS 2012)
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