As a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, I was pleased to see professor Joseph Reisert’s recent column “Liberal arts professors challenged to show value of their disciplines” because it highlights a growing problem facing academia. Due to higher costs, students are rightfully looking for a better return on their investment. However, the modern liberal education faces a deeper problem: It lacks moral seriousness.
Today, students are often taught to be open-minded, which is fine. But, if your mind is too open, then anything can fly in and considered to be true.
Diversity is the goal of the modern liberal arts education, not the search for truth. Therefore, students live in a community of relativism. There are no moral absolutes being taught, just follow the latest social movement. Students often spend four years trying to sort through classes without receiving a truly liberating education.
For centuries, the classical liberal education provided students an education of the mind, body and soul. As Reisert pointed out, professors “used to argue that their task was to preserve and transmit to the future a common cultural inheritance, to prepare and ennoble citizens by forging a shared intellectual culture.” Students were required to take classes in literature, history and philosophy. They learned that old texts and documents help illuminate both the enduring questions and the nature of the contemporary world. What does it mean to be human? What is human nature? Do I have a soul? By contemplating these kinds of questions, students are liberated with a morally serious education. In a growingly skeptical world, a classical liberal arts education is a proven way for students to take on the challenges we face in our republic.