| By Ally Mueller |
Although you may be familiar with the phrase “liberal arts,” you may not know the details of a liberal arts education. The University Core Requirements at UP – classes in philosophy, history, fine arts, social sciences, hard sciences, math, and more – are features of a liberal arts education. A liberal arts curriculum generally covers the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and formal sciences (Haidar).
When majoring in engineering, accounting, education, nursing, etc., you will not only take classes directly corresponding to your major, but “liberal arts” core classes beyond the scope of your major to learn about other areas. A liberal arts education forces you to step outside your comfort zone and develop a more holistic view of the world, providing you with a wide range of skills to be a knowledgeable citizen and human being who effectively contributes to society.
If you are a nursing major, for example, and notice that you are required to take history, English, and social science courses, you may be frustrated, thinking that these classes are detracting from your major, which is the main focus of your education. However, many universities, including UP, believe that a liberal arts background provides the best basis for an educated citizen, enhancing a student’s ability to think, learn, and understand the world. It can be easy to get caught up in the classes only associated with one particular major, but a liberal arts education ensures that you will learn material from differing backgrounds and fields. This can be highly advantageous to students, as it prepares them for work in a number of fields, introduces them to careers they may not have previously considered, and allows them to understand the fields that their peers may be studying further.
I personally have witnessed the benefits of my liberal arts education, as I have been exposed to a number of classes and fields I would have never pursued without a liberal-arts-based University Core. I have taken classes in art history, ethics, U.S. politics, Latin American history, and environmental science. These courses have been some of my favorite classes in my college career thus far, even though they fell outside my greater interests (business) and major (accounting). While I still plan on pursuing accounting after college, having this background has provided me with a broad knowledge base that I will be able to maintain after my college career. Without this exposure to other fields, I would be much more narrow-minded and much less educated. So, while you may consider that the history class you have to take next semester to be a burden, instead try to think of that class as an opportunity to broaden your horizons, learn about a new field, and become a more educated student, citizen, and human being.
Haidar, Hasna. “What is Liberal Arts Education?” Topuniversities.com. Quacquarelli Symonds, 28 Jan. 2014.