Retiring AAC&U president makes case for broad liberal arts education
- In a video interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, retiring Association of American Colleges & Universities President Carol Geary Schneider expresses hope for the future of "big picture" liberal arts education despite a "very toxic environment" around higher ed's value.
- Schneider says institutions must work toward true inclusive excellence to guide students with a variety of interests, backgrounds and preparation toward the broad learning and intellectual skills they need from the liberal arts and sciences. Such an approach must guide students toward well-designed research, service, project-based and collaborative learning opportunities, she said.
- There should also be greater explanations of course offerings prior to applying, during students' arrival on campus and throughout their general ed and major courses. Schneider says these conversations should connect course offerings to the students' chosen fields.
To highlight the importance of a broad liberal arts education, Schneider cited the field of nursing, telling the Chronicle that a professional will have to navigate complex social, cultural and political environments on top of simply practicing the skills needed for the field.
Her argument echoes that of many liberal arts college leaders, like Muhlenberg College's John Williams and Hollins University's Nancy Gray, who have long held that the broad nature of the liberal arts prepares students to pivot as fields change and career transitions are necessitated. Simply teaching students the skills required for a position that exists today may not be enough to prepare them for a future in which those skills are outdated and demand rises in positions and fields that don't yet exist.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education Why a 'Big-Picture Education' Has Never Been More Important
Follow Roger Riddell on Twitter