University of Minnesota Duluth

What are the Liberal Arts?

What are the Liberal Arts?

The term "liberal arts" refers to a group of disciplines that, in Western culture, are considered essential for adequate education and civic participation:

  Dr. John Hatcher and journalism students
Journalism classroom
the Humanities
(Arts, English, Foreign Languages, History, and Philosophy),

the Social Sciences
(such as Anthropology, Communication, Geography, Political Science, and Sociology),

the Sciences and Mathematics.

A liberal arts education will teach you to analyze and interpret information, develop and express informed opinions, communicate effectively, appreciate the richness of a diverse human culture, and better understand human nature and society.

While these skills are valuable by themselves, they form the backbone of what's been called the "conceptual economy". Daniel Pink, business writer and former speechwriter for Vice-President Al Gore, argues that today's college graduates need to master six critical skills to succeed in the 21st century economy:

Design (the ability to conceptualize and think creatively),
Story (the ability to tell a story, to use metaphor, and to write and speak clearly),
Symphony (the ability to summarize and synthesize information, to bring various ideas and people together to work as a team),
Empathy (the ability to immerse yourself in someone else's culture, and to be tolerant of ideas contrary to one's own cultural tradition),
Play (the ability to imagine, to be humorous, and to utilize game strategies in everyday problem solving),
Meaning (the ability to seek out non-material activities, to appreciate symbolic culture, and to develop lasting career skills).

These six skills very much overlap with the outcomes of a liberal arts education. The College of Liberal Arts offers majors, minors, and courses that strengthen all of these skills that will make a difference in our students' personal and professional lives.

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