Thursday, February 12, 2009

Reinventing the Liberal Arts

Echoing some of the discussions we've had on this blog about the purposes of higher education, and anticipating some of the discussions we will have at our upcoming Symposium, it is interesting to note that an article in today's Times Higher states that the University of Winchester in the UK is planning to launch a liberal arts degree programme.

The aim is to provide a broad education which encourages critical thinking in an interdisciplinary context. The programme is being developed by an educational philosopher, Professor Nigel Tubbs. He says:

"Today the term 'liberal arts' can mean lots of different things. I'm interested in the original intention, about what happens in the search for first principles that express the conditions of the possibility of the human intellect and the natural universe."

For those of you who are wondering, Winchester is a small, new (2004) university with foundations in the Church of England. The core values listed on their website include a 'celebration of Christianity'. The historical links between religion and liberal arts still seem to permeate this particular educational ethos: is it not yet time to reinvent the liberal arts?

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