The liberal arts (Latin: artes liberales) are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person (Latin: liberal, "worthy of a free person") to know in order to take an active part in civic life, something that (for Ancient Greece) included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service. Grammar, rhetoric, and logic were the core liberal arts, while arithmetic, geometry, the theory of music, and astronomy also played a (somewhat lesser) part in education.
In modern times, liberal arts education is a term that can be interpreted in different ways. It can refer to certain areas of literature, languages, art history, music history, philosophy, history, mathematics, psychology, and science. It can also refer to studies on a liberal arts degree program. For example, Harvard University offers a Master of Liberal Arts degree, which covers biological and social sciences as well as the humanities. For both interpretations, the term generally refers to matters not relating to the professional, vocational, or technical curricula.
Rooted in the basic curriculum - the enkuklios paideia or "education in a circle" - of late Classical and Hellenistic Greece, the "liberal arts" or "liberal pursuits" (Latin liberalia studia) were already so called in formal education during the Roman Empire: thus Seneca the Younger discusses liberal arts in education from a critical Stoic point of view in Moral Epistle 88. Contrary to popular belief, freeborn girls were as likely to receive formal education as boys, especially during the Roman Empire—unlike the lack of education, or purely manual/technical skills, proper to a slave. The exact classification of the liberal arts varied however in Roman times, and it was only after Martianus Capella in the 5th century AD influentially brought the seven liberal arts as bridesmaids to the Marriage of Mercury and Philology, that they took on canonical form.
The four 'scientific' artes – music, arithmetic, geometry and astronomy (or astrology) – were known from the time of Boethius onwards as the Quadrivium; while after the 9thC the remaining three arts of the 'humanities' – grammar, rhetoric and logic - were classed as well as the Trivium. It was in that two-fold form that the seven liberal arts were studied in the medieval Western university. During the Middle Ages, logic gradually came to take predominance over the other parts of the Trivium. In the Renaissance, the Italian humanists and their Northern counterparts, despite in many respects continuing the traditions of the Middle Ages, reversed that process. Re-christening the old Trivium with a new and more ambitious name: Studia humanitatis, and also increasing its scope, they downplayed logic as opposed to the traditional Latin grammar and rhetoric, and added to them history, Greek, and moral philosophy (ethics), with a new emphasis on poetry as well. The educational curriculum of humanism spread throughout Europe during the sixteenth century and became the educational foundation for the schooling of European elites, the functionaries of political administration, the clergy of the various legally recognized churches, and the learned professions of law and medicine. The ideal of a liberal arts, or humanistic education grounded in classical languages and literature, persisted until the middle of the twentieth century.
Mathematics, science, arts, and language can all be considered part of the liberal arts. Some subsections of the liberal arts are trivium—the verbal arts: logic, grammar, and rhetoric; and quadrivium—the numerical arts: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Analyzing and interpreting information is also studied.
Academic areas that can be associated with the term liberal arts include:
The liberal arts education prepares the student for higher education at a university. They are thus meant for the more academically minded students. In addition to the usual curriculum, students of a liberal arts education often study Latin and Ancient Greek.
Some liberal arts education provide general education, others have a specific focus. (This also differs from country to country.) The four traditional branches are:
Curricula differ from school to school, but generally include language, mathematics, informatics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, art (as well as crafts and design), music, history, philosophy, civics / citizenship, social sciences, and several foreign languages.
Schools concentrate not only on academic subjects, but on producing well-rounded individuals, so physical education and religion or ethics are compulsory, even in non-denominational schools which are prevalent. For example, the German constitution guarantees the separation of church and state, so although religion or ethics classes are compulsory, students may choose to study a specific religion or none at all.
Today, a number of other areas of specialization exist, such as gymnasiums specializing in economics, technology or domestic sciences. In some countries, there is a notion of progymnasium, which is equivalent to beginning classes of the full gymnasium, with the rights to continue education in a gymnasium. Here, the prefix "pro" indicates that this curriculum precedes normal gymnasium studies.
In the United States, liberal arts colleges are schools emphasizing undergraduate study in the liberal arts. Traditionally earned over four years of full-time study, some universities such as Saint Leo University, Pennsylvania State University, Florida Institute of Technology and New England College have begun to offer an associate degree in liberal arts. Most students earn either[dubious ] a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science[original research?] degree; on completing undergraduate study, students might progress to either a graduate school or a professional school (public administration, engineering, business, law, medicine, theology). The teaching is Socratic, typically with small classes, and often has a lower student-to-teacher ratio than at large universities; professors teaching classes are allowed to concentrate more on their teaching responsibilities than primary research professors or graduate student teaching assistants, in contrast to the instruction common in universities.[original research?]
Despite the European origin of the liberal arts college, the term liberal arts college usually denotes liberal arts colleges in the United States. With the exception of pioneering institutions such as Franklin University Switzerland (formerly known as Franklin College), established as a Europe-based, US-style liberal arts college in 1969, only recently some efforts have been undertaken to systematically "re-import" liberal arts education to continental Europe, as with Leiden University College The Hague, University College Utrecht, University College Maastricht, Amsterdam University College, Roosevelt Academy (now University College Roosevelt),ATLAS University College, Erasmus University College, University College Groningen, Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts, and the European College of Liberal Arts. As well as the colleges listed above, some universities in the Netherlands offer bachelors programs in Liberal Arts and Sciences (Tilburg University). In the United Kingdom, King's College London and University College London launched liberal arts programmes in 2012. It is the curriculum of Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan for Bachelors, the only institute in the country which offers this program.
Liberal arts (as a degree program) is just beginning to establish itself in Europe. For example, University College Dublin offers the degree, as does St. Marys University College Belfast, both institutions coincidentally on the island of Ireland. In the Netherlands, universities have opened constituent liberal arts colleges under the terminology university college since the late 1990s. It has been suggested that the liberal arts degree may become part of mainstream education provision in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other European countries. In 1999, the European College of Liberal Arts (now Bard College Berlin) was founded in Berlin and in 2009 it introduced a 4-year Bachelor of Arts program in Value Studies taught in English, leading to an interdisciplinary degree in the humanities. In 2010 the University of Winchester introduced its Modern Liberal Arts undergraduate program, the first of its kind in the UK. In 2012, University College London began its interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences BASc degree (which has kinship with the liberal arts model) with 80 students. King's College London launched the BA Liberal Arts, which has a slant towards arts, humanities and social sciences subjects. The New College of the Humanities also launched a new liberal education programme. The four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences at University College Freiburg is the first of its kind in Germany. It started in October 2012 with 78 students. The first Liberal Arts degree program in Sweden was established at Gothenburg University in 2011, followed by a Liberal Arts Bachelor Programme at Uppsala University's Campus Gotland in the autumn of 2013. The first Liberal Arts program in Georgia was introduced in 2005 by American-Georgian Initiative for Liberal Education (AGILE), an NGO. In collaboration with AGILE, Ilia State University became the first higher education institution in Georgia to establish a liberal arts program.
Campion College is a Roman Catholic dedicated Liberal Arts college, located in the western suburbs of Sydney. Founded in 2006, it is the first tertiary educational Liberal Arts college of its type in Australia. Campion offers a Bachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts as its sole undergraduate degree. The key disciplines studied are history, literature, philosophy and theology.
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