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Why liberal arts matter

Indiatoday.in | November 10, 2016
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Five reasons a higher education in this field of new openings might be a good choice.

Santosh Kudtarkar
Associate Dean, Faculty Of Liberal Education, Flame University, Pune

Having a medical or engineering degree can provide a host of career options, but with the changing world demographics, an education in liberal arts is critical to success. It teaches students what employers value the most-critical thinking, sound decision making, teamwork, and sensitivity to cultural, economic and societal differences-in addition to providing experiences and understanding to lead a fulfilling life. Five reasons why an education in liberal arts is valuable.

Develops learning, critical thinking and effective communication

An education in liberal arts provides the tools necessary to think clearly by constantly asking students to articulate their thoughts via papers, presentations and discussions. It aims to train them in various modes of thinking, leading to intellectual growth by application of these skills to examine, analyse and synthesise information. Through personalised attention and sustained engagement, it enhances one's sense of curiosity and fosters habits of lifelong learning. Liberal arts education seeks to circumvent the danger of irrelevancy presented by today's disciplines.

Provides exposure to knowledge through a wide canvas of disciplines
The philosophy of liberal arts is rooted in the unity of all knowledge. It operates in a multi-disciplinary framework that provides a wider exposure to human knowledge. For instance, through courses in physical and natural sciences, students become familiar with linear, rational and experiment-based thinking. Meanwhile, courses in fine and performing arts enable students to develop aesthetic sensibilities.

Develops understanding of areas of interest
A liberal arts degree provides an excellent base to delve deeper into areas of one's own interests. By choosing a major and minor field of interest, it provides students a wide choice of disciplines to specialise in. Through such combinations, in fact, students are better equipped to get skills necessary for functioning effectively in different jobs and in a global marketplace, which is need of the hour.

Develops tolerance, inclusion and civic values
Liberal arts education is not restricted only to intellectual advancement. It aims to increase understanding of the similarities and differences between people within a society and between societies. It aims to nurture sensitive, informed, ethical, and responsible individuals who use their knowledge to bring about a positive change.

Develops life and leadership skills

Practical skills for navigating through life, coupled with self-motivation, the ability to take risks, and work-life balance, are essential to lead a successful life. A liberal education programme aims to develop awareness of the self by providing these skills. Through communication and interpersonal skills, it instills the ability in students to solve problems and resolve conflicts, explore opportunities, design and execute career plans.