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Liberal Education, v95 n1 p56-59 Win 2009

Liberal education and the liberal arts are not synonymous. Liberal arts refers to certain subjects of study, which may be pursued to many possible ends. Liberal education may be pursued through any subject matter, but the term implies distinct purposes: (1) breadth of awareness and appreciation; (2) clarity and precision of thought and communication; (3) critical analysis; and (4) honing of moral and ethical sensibilities. Thus an education in the liberal arts and sciences disciplines is not, by definition, a liberal education. Study exclusively in the liberal arts disciplines does not guarantee a liberal education. Indeed, many liberal arts majors are as narrowly specialized as any professional program. Conversely, many career-specific programs are insistent on liberal learning. In this article, the author contends that equating a liberal education with the study of the liberal arts and insisting that such an education is to be found today only in those colleges whose hallmark is a focus on the past does not much help the cause of either the liberal arts or liberal education.

Descriptors: General Education, Criticism, Critical Thinking, Liberal Arts, Science Education, Undergraduate Students

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Author: Shoenberg, Robert


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