ERG SES D 15, Practices and Education
The idea of liberal education has historically been championed by institutions of higher education with a selective admissions and exclusive understanding of their social role. It has commonly been described in terms of liberal arts curriculum, residential liberal arts colleges and - to some extent - a model of a "gentleman's education". The common opponent in those definitions was professional programs, be it of job-market or academic character. Although it was far from clear what exactly means being liberally educated, there was a widespread agreement that there certainly is a difference between higher education programs that are liberal education and those, which are not.
However, in the beginning of the current century, scholars and policy makers devoted to this ideal in the United States have started associating various educational approaches and practices with "liberal education". Matters as different as global citizenship, student engagement, liberal education learning outcomes, student well-being, floruishing, community outreach and applied learninig are now a matter of a serious scholarly attention and explicitly called examples of liberal education.
Recent, centennial symposium held by Association of American Colleges and Univeristies in washington, D.C. in January 2015 has been packed up with presentations that are based on this modern, inclusive understanding. While virtually no attention has been given to curricular choices (apart from the role of general education in undergraduate curricula), it can safely be stated that an important shift in liberal education advocacy is happening now in the United States.
It is especially interesting also for the global context of changes in higher education. A recent study has shown that there is a quickly growing pool of institutions that offer liberal arts programs outside the United States. They can be found in Asia, in the Middle East, Africa, South America and last but not least, Europe. The model of education that - when associated with residential liberal arts colleges - has been famously called "distinctively American",
The article aims at resolving the following research question: what exactly is the nature of change in liberal education advocacy during last twenty years? What are the outcomes of this shift in terms of scholarly attention or public opinion?
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