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Exploring the Significance of Liberal Arts for Democracy and Business Success

2 min read

In our contemporary epoch, various societal shifts have cast a negative light on the liberal arts. The popular narrative seems to suggest that liberal arts graduates are a burden on the economy, they can’t secure jobs, and the discipline, in general, is a drain on society. This narrative urgently requires a reevaluation and who better to spearhead this than Jeffrey Scheuer, author of “Inside the Liberal Arts, Critical Thinking and Citizenship”.

The Case for Liberal Arts

The liberal arts education has often been underappreciated. Its multidisciplinary approach is vital in fostering effective citizens capable of critical thinking and analysis. For Jeffrey Scheuer, the liberal arts, although named in early Roman times, embodies the core idea of providing the skills needed for a free citizen.

Scheuer breaks down liberal arts into fundamental ‘gateway concepts’ such as language, rationality, analysis, truth, causality, and complexity. Each aspect contributes to the intellectual foundation necessary for an individual to participate successfully in society.

Scheuer goes on to argue the necessity of liberal arts for democracy. The rise of technology, while it provides numerous benefits, empowers soundbite information teaching that discourages critical thinking. Social media platforms flood us with a torrent of data, leaving little room for connective reasoning. Embedding the liberal arts within higher education cultivates thoughtful citizens capable of deeper societal contribution, overshadowing these issues.

Business Benefits from Liberal Arts Backgrounds

Taking a step back, Scheuer suggests that the liberal arts are crucial for achieving excellent workforce education. He proposes that liberal education doesn’t just equip citizens for life but also for the workplace. Liberal arts graduates demonstrate better critical thinking, adaptability, and communication skills, all attributes sought-after by employers. This idea is echoed by Steve Jobs who argued for the marriage of technology with liberal arts, yielding enriched results.

Despite these compelling arguments, the popularity of the liberal arts is threatened. Some governments and politicians are actively pursuing the obliteration of liberal arts education. This trend threatens the very foundation of democracy, intensifying societal polarization, and driving authoritarianism. Without a thriving liberal arts community, the number of individuals trained in critical thinking reduces significantly, impacting business, government, and other sectors negatively.

The Way Forward

The preservation and promotion of liberal arts education are achievable but require individual and corporate actions. Commitments to liberal arts education should be implemented systemically, through investment in education, a shift in societal values, and practical acknowledgment of its benefits. This path forward may seem broad and general, and indeed it is. We are, after all, talking about encouraging a cultural shift to appreciate the liberal arts.

In this collective process, individuals can make a difference by seeking personal education from a liberal arts perspective. This doesn’t have to necessarily be in the form of a degree, but in the form of a constant endeavour to engage critical thinking in everyday life. Ultimately, the goal of liberal arts education, as Scheuer defines it, is to instill constructive citizenship across business and economic, cultural, and civic sectors.

In summary, the liberal arts can not be dismissed as irrelevant or unnecessary. The discipline provides the framework for valuable societal outcomes, from economics to democratic stability. Let’s shift perspective and work together to incorporate liberal arts as an essential part of our education and societal fabric.

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