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Liberal Arts

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Nature of the Work

The program of study called “liberal arts” is an ancient one. The term “liberal arts” was originally coined in Ancient Greece, referring to the course of study appropriate to the free (or “liberated”) man. Broken up into two groups of study called the trivium and quadrivium, liberal arts remained the core curriculum of all western universities until the late medieval period. The trivium referred to the studies of grammar, rhetoric and logic, while the quadrivium involved geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music. Todays society, however, has come to regard liberal arts as something entirely different.

Liberal arts in our modern understanding, is a somewhat generic, intellectual, course of study. It is not a course of study intended to prepare the student for a career requiring professional training such as law or medicine. Instead, the liberal arts curriculum is intended to give the student a broad range of intellectual knowledge across a wide field of subjects. Often the curriculum will include philosophy, art, history and music with nearly every permutation in between. Most universities require their students to spend a significant portion of their studies taking liberal arts courses in order to provide a good foundation in the basics that will be necessary throughout their careers.

For those students who wish to continue a liberal arts education throughout their four years in college, there is an expectation of greater flexibility as the area of liberal arts is so diverse. Most often, colleges offer the student the opportunity to focus on one particular area of the liberal arts, such as social science or humanities rather than dabble in each.

Career opportunities for those graduates with a liberal arts education have never been better. Large companies who only hired business graduates in the past are now looking to those students who have spent four years honing their writing and reasoning skills rather than exclusively learned number-crunching. No longer is the liberal arts student forced to go to a professional school to insure a good career for themselves.

Positions as analysts, account executives and managers are becoming available to history and English majors because of a greater amount of corporate willingness to provide training and encourage employee retention.

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