Why Liberal Arts & Sciences?

Why Liberal Arts & Sciences?
What is Liberal Arts?
As a student in the liberal arts, you will develop two core skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life—you will learn how to think, and you will learn how to learn. Liberal arts is a broad-based approach to education, focused on developing a well-rounded individual by engaging in courses across the disciplinary spectrum—history, literature, math, science, and foreign language.
The liberal arts are a system, a methodology that can be applied to any topical area or situation, both in and out of school. This multi-disciplinary approach cultivates critical thinking by having you consider a subject from diverse perspectives. You will become a creative problem-solver, able to look at the big picture and propose contextually appropriate and effective solutions.
As a liberal arts thinker you will not need to already be an expert on a subject in order to contribute—you can use a multi-disciplinary approach to educate yourself. In effect, you will have learned how to learn. In this way, it is not so much the content of a liberal arts education, but the acquired skills in critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and communication that will enable you to be a life-long learner, and a versatile member of society.
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Why Liberal Arts & Sciences
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Scientists Write Too
"The CHC provided me all the small college benefits of personalized mentoring, and all the opportunities only a large state school can offer...This broad liberal arts education taught me to write, to communicate, and to think critically—skills important in any field, and as essential to a scientist as our own disciplinary knowledge."
Michael Boehnke, PhD '77
Richard G. Cornell Distinguished University Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Director of the Center for Statistical Genetics and the Genome Science Training Program​​​​
Liberal Sciences

"Some of the skills that I rely on most as a biologist are the same skills that a lawyer, an architect, or a journalist needs — Leadership, Storytelling, and Curiosity."

—Biology professor Kelly Sutherland, in the Clark Honors College 2016 commencement speech
Combining Disciplines for Uniquely Powerful Learning
One of the greatest highlights of a Clark Honors College education are the five colloquia that you will take in your third and fourth years. These courses are taught on subjects near and dear to the professor's heart, and often cut across disciplines to provide a unique perspective.
Imagination is more important than knowledge quote by Albert Einstein
Poetry and science merge, converge, blur, and blend in this study of genius that rocked—and still rocks—our world. Bursting and bending disciplines, joyously defying definitions of field—Einstein the scientist playing the violin and encouraging humanities, Emerson the poet urging study of science and history. Emerson and Einstein were celebrities, famous iconic minds and legends who shaped their centuries—and ours. Their metaphoric imaginations challenged and changed science and social sciences in how we think about our world and what 'matters,' from transformative emergent complexity and chaos theories, to civil and human rights and environmental policies. We ask, what makes them so powerful?

Algebra equations
This seminar explores the development of algebra and number theory through the ages, from its primitive origins in Egypt and ancient Babylon, to Greek geometric algebra as manifested in Euclid’s Elements. We also look at Chinese, Indian, and Islamic contributions (the word algebra is a Latin variant from the Arabic al-jabr) to algebra’s progress in Medieval Europe, to the frontiers of the 19th century. This seminar is accessible to any honors college student with a good basic knowledge of high school pre-calculus mathematics. We will discuss strategies for approaching proofs and solving problems, and guide you towards successfully solving unfamiliar problems on your own.

Petri dish with red liquid from a dropper former North and South America
Scientific information plays a major role in nearly every government policy decision. In many instances, science becomes a part of policy with minimal discussion. At other times, the role of science in policy decisions is controversial. How should scientific information be a part of policy decisions? How should science influence politics? How should politics influence science? How should laws and regulations cope with incomplete or inconclusive science? Is scientific information objective? Apolitical? Neutral? Or is scientific information value laden, political, and biased? What makes scientific information credible? Who has the standing to speak for science? What is science?
Employers Want Liberal Arts Graduates
The liberal arts are a hot topic these days. Don't take our word for the value of a liberal arts degree—take a peek at the national conversation:
The Liberal Arts in the Real World
"In ancient Greece, the liberal arts were intended to produce the ideal citizen: a person of intelligence, with sensible moral judgment and the ability to reason. Today the purpose of an education on that model is to create a well-rounded student who can relate diverse fields of study and connect apparently disparate thoughts and ideas." Read More »

A Top Medical School Revamps Requirements to Lure English Majors
"Studies have shown that the students in Mt. Sinai's Humanities in Medicine program are just as successful in medical school as the students who take more science classes in college. And they are slightly more likely to choose primary care or psychiatry as a specialty—both areas of high need." Read More »

Even in the Age of STEM, Employers Still Value Liberal Arts Degrees
"HR executives perceive graduates with liberal arts degrees as well-rounded candidates with characteristics that stimulate efficiency and resourcefulness." Read More »

Why Tech Industries Are Demanding More Liberal Arts Graduates
"Fields like military science and finance depend heavily on liberal arts training for its focus on communication and building teamwork, a concept EAB Senior Analyst Ashley Delamater says is becoming an attractive credential for tech development companies and Silicon Valley’s next wave of executive hiring." Read More »

Why I Was Wrong About Liberal-Arts Majors
"Looking back at the tech teams that I’ve built at my companies, it’s evident that individuals with liberal arts degrees are by far the sharpest, best­-performing software developers and technology leaders. Often these modern techies have degrees in philosophy, history, and music—even political science." Read More »
Invest In Yourself
"Out in the world, I have worked with generals, I have worked with mega-millionaires—in all different kinds of environments—and I’ve never been in any discussion where people would talk about things where I had very little knowledge, where I couldn’t catch on. It’s because my education was so diverse and I was taught to cut to the chase and see what was supposed to happen. Never have I been in a situation where I felt I was undereducated, and Clark Honors College gets credit for that. This is the best investment I ever made; it’s the best thing I ever did."
—Ival McMains, BA '70
Chapman Hall