The Liberal Arts Education
Learning in the Arts and Sciences
Our students are, at the heart of it, highly skilled in problem-solving, and that is something we emphasize in our classrooms. We believe an Arts and Sciences education encourages students in the pursuit of questions and that the effective learning environment is one that best facilitates opportunities for students to put their ideas about these questions to the test. The work that students engage in is both pragmatic and enlightening in its emphasis on critical thinking, strong written and oral communication skills, digital literacy, and openness to multiple ways of thinking. Central to all of our students’ development is their active embrace of open and critical inquiry, the foundation of the work that we value. Through their study in coursework and opportunities to apply that knowledge outside of the classroom, students in the Arts and Sciences cultivate rigorous habits of thinking that are grounded in their intellectual and ethical judgment.
No matter the department – from the hard sciences to the humanities, from the social sciences to our interdisciplinary majors – all of our programs encourage students to develop the skills that they will need for success in the future while offering students the opportunity to critically engage with the broad range of great thinkers of the past and the present. Students focus on many of the problems and issues facing our society and consider multiple ways of framing and understanding those problems, ultimately moving toward an articulation of some possible solutions that we can consider.
Our faculty members offer a variety of opportunities – lectures, labs, group work, presentations, discussions – through which students learn the subject matter and collaborate with others. Through a range of learning exercises and activities, the faculty members in the Arts and Sciences help students locate information, evaluate it, share it, and make judgments about it. Finally, our faculty members excel at fostering a sense of community so that students can put their ideas to the test against others in the classroom and laboratory in which they are working, as well as in the culture at large.
Our students embrace the philosophy of active critical inquiry, and in the process take responsibility for their own learning and that of their fellow students. In the classroom they engage in a series of questions through discussions, labs and group work; in experiential opportunities, they find ways to place what they have learned into practical applications. They take the information they gather from their research and place that information in a number of disciplinary and critical contexts so that they can understand the issue or question from more than one point of view and ultimately move toward a critical analysis and judgment that is framed through their own ethics and morals.