The importance of a liberal arts education

This discussion will focus on the following two readings:

  • 7 Major Misperceptions About the Liberal Arts  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
  • Employment outcomes in the four-year sector: The value of liberal arts degrees (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Once you have reviewed this material, please address the following question in your initial post of 250+ words, including at least 2 additional academic resources.

  1. Explain what you see as the importance of a liberal arts education and how this relates to you.
  2. Using the two additional resources you have located, discuss the relevance of a liberal arts education in the 21st century. Explain what these authors tell us and discuss how this is either a valid or an invalid argument in support of a liberal arts education and why or why not.

Module Notes:

We will explore the different disciplines of the liberal arts as a place from which to interact with the learning outcomes of the course and this program. The critical thinking learning outcome will also be introduced in this module. We will practice our critical/analytical thinking skills, as these are important tools that everyone will need to address the problems and challenges facing us today and in the future.

In this first module we will look at what an education in liberal arts means to us and others. There has been some controversy about the utility of a liberal arts degree in the 21st century and we will explore the arguments on both sides of this topic. Can a liberal arts degree prepare us for the challenges we will face in the future? What about careers that have not even been dreamed of yet? While looking more deeply into the meaning of a liberal arts education, we will also begin our exploration of ethical dilemmas. For this first learning outcome (ethics) we will use the natural sciences to look at some problems and issues confronting scientists and all of us today.

During this module, we explore the nature of critical thinking. You can begin to understand critical or analytical thinking as a way of reflecting on the process of thinking itself. As adults who are part of a democratic society, we are encouraged to be precise, analytical, and objective in our thinking as we make decisions that will impact ourselves, our families, communities, and nation. Critical thinking goes a step beyond the everyday thought processes we engage in naturally and causes us to pause and think about how and why we think the way we do. Being a critical thinker takes some practice, and requires effort. It is a skill that we should pursue and develop over the course of our lives. Critical thinking allows us to be open to new ideas and perspectives with a reasoned and considered process of examination in pursuit of the necessary facts and perspectives to reach the best possible conclusion. It requires that we are open to new ideas, but that we hold both new and old ideas to the same high standards of proof and reproducibility.

We will look at one example of an ethical dilemma in the sciences in our second discussion. Your Module 2 assignment will ask you explore another such dilemma in the natural sciences, as well. Nothing will challenge your critical thinking skills like wrestling with these complex problems. An ethical dilemma cannot be resolved by a simple right or wrong decision, but only by thorough examination of the two opposing sides, both of which have some positive and negative consequences. Using the skills of critical thinking to analyze and examine ethical dilemmas is an approach that will allow us to appreciate multiple perspectives and reach conclusions that are both balanced and equitable.

“Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve” (Sir Karl Popper)

Popper, K. (1972) Objective knowledge: An evolutionary approach. New York: Oxford University Press.

PowerPoint Presentation: Ethical DilemmasPreview the document [Presentation slides][PPTX file size 675 KB]

An Introduction to Critical Thinking (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

[Video file][6 min 39 sec]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/oefmPtsV_w4

Episode 1.1: What is Critical Thinking? (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

[Video file][12 min 30 sec]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0yEAE5owWw

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