Skip to main content Skip to navigation

IP101 Liberal Arts: Principles and Praxis

Liberal Arts students in a workshop with Dr Bryan Brazeau
Dr William Rupp. Dr Rupp is smiling at the camera, wearing a suit

Module leader: Dr William Rupp

Core module | Non-assessed

10 weeks | 10 discussion hours

Not available to students outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies

Moodle Platform »

Principal Aims

This set of interactive discussions aims to introduce you to Liberal Arts Education and its history. You'll be introduced to Liberal Arts thinking and how it differs from traditional discipline-based thinking. The lectures are structured around areas of intellectual debate.

Principal Learning Outcomes

By the end of the 10-week period you'll be expected to have learnt:

  1. The key principles that inform a Liberal Arts Education;
  2. A brief history of Liberal Arts Education;
  3. The key debates that guide Liberal Arts thinking;
  4. The theoretical benefits of a Liberal Arts Education; and
  5. The practical benefits of a Liberal Arts Education.

Consider this

Most 18 year-olds "have passed the age when a compulsory external discipline is useful. A well-instructed youth of eighteen can select for himself a better course of study than any college faculty, or any wise man who does not know him and his ancestors and his previous life, can possibly select for him". (Charles Eliot, Harvard University President, 1885).

Liberal Education is timely. Its emphasis on individualism and freedom of choice coincide with the spirit of our time. Let's explore what it means for us, on this degree course, and how it will empower us to choose our own path through education so that it's meaningful, personal and relevant.

Outline Syllabus

Term 1

  1. "Seeing and Perceiving:" Plato's Cave and Problem-Based Learning
  2. "The Arts Worthy of a Free Person:" Liberal Arts Education from the Ancient World to the Renaissance
  3. "A Natural Aristocracy?" Liberal Arts from the Renaissance to Present Day
  4. Revolution! Education and Equality
  5. Educated: Identity and Higher Education

Term 2

  1. Key debates in Liberal Arts Thinking: Case Studies
  2. International Approaches to Liberal Arts
  3. Theoretical Benefits to Liberal Arts Education
  4. Practical Benefits to Liberal Arts Education
  5. Employability: Marketing a Liberal Arts Degree

Reading List

Emerson, R.W. 1841. "Self-Reliance"

Hunter, Gordon and Feisal Mohamed, eds. 2016. A New Deal for the Humanities: Liberal Arts and the Future of Public Higher Education.

"The Regina Beach Manifesto": A Policy for the Liberal Arts. 1963.

Roche, Mark William. 2010. Why Choose the Liberal Arts?

Schein, Edgar H. 2013. Humble Inquiry

Ulloa Chaves, Christopher A. 2014. Liberal Arts and Sciences: Thinking Critically, Creatively, and Ethically .

Zakaria, Fareed. 2015. In Defense of a Liberal Education

Additional Reading opportunities

Kimball, B.A. 2010. The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Documentary History

Peterson, P.M. 2012. "Liberal Arts Education in the Undergraduate Curriculum" in Confronting Challenges to the Liberal Arts Curriculum.

Schmidt, G.P. 1957. The Liberal Arts College: A chapter in American cultural history.

Sloan, D. "Harmony, Chaos, and Consensus: The American College Curriculum" in Teachers College Record 73 (Dec. 1971): 221-51

Veysey, L. 1973. "Stability and Experiment in American Undergraduate Curriculum" in Content and Context: Essays on College Education, ed. Carl Kaysen.

Visual Materials

Apple, "Think Different" Advertising Campaign (1997)