The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Rethinking liberal arts

July 15, 2009

What does a citizen need to know? What skills and knowledge should we assume in our interactions with others? What makes a person a well-rounded person? The issues go back for centuries, and every so often some suggests modifications to the list of “liberal arts.” I teach at a university with a “liberal arts” requirement, and I know from experience the battles to have a class listed as required (or optional) include issues of academic politics and teaching philosophy. The outcomes of those battles can make or break particular classes, or entire programs.

A group of scholars has published a new reconsideration (PDF) of “liberal arts” (note: not the liberal arts). What began as a series of conversations on a blog has been refined to a short book. The contributors go out out of their way to declare their list is not canonical, but here’s their table of contents:So, what do you think? What needs to be added to the list of liberal arts? What needs to be dropped? Is there a place for what we teach?

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Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Slippery Rock University. Passionate about liberty, security, foreign policy, political economy.