Manual The Liberal Arts in the Twenty-first Century

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At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the world was full of confidence about the inevitability of growing forms and processes of globalization—instantaneous communication, flattened economy, massive movement of people—and the resulting need for new forms of education.

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Intellectual and business leaders talked about how the world as we had known it in the twentieth century—the world of industrialization and specialized knowledge, the world in which nation-states reigned supreme—was not the world that the young people would operate in the twenty-first century. Teachers enthused how they wanted their students to be comfortable in any situation they found themselves in, regardless of where they lived or worked.

Many of us, committed to developing skills for an inter-dependent, inter-connected world, argued that developing respect for diverse points of view, empathy for people different from ourselves, and an ability to engage the world with a sense of reflection were necessary tools for the new world in the new millennium. Contact us Press room Legal Information Site map. In this context, it was evident that such skills would come from the training in liberal arts.

It is one thing to know how to code and develop a new electronic app, it is another thing to ask about the ethical dilemmas that may emerge from such new media tools. Clearly, the ability to communicate cogently, to understand subtleties of human interaction, or to identify important social developments from a plethora of data is all in the domain of arts and humanities.

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Now, as we approach the third decade of the new century, some of the euphoria about the globalizing world has dampened considerably. Increasing economic insecurity in the developed world and the need for creating millions of new jobs in the developing world has given rise to privileging skills-based learning: educating students to get jobs.

The reality is that no matter how vociferous the anti-globalization voices, and how nostalgic the idea of privileging the home country for creating old-fashioned jobs, it is unlikely that technological advances in artificial intelligence or instant communication will go away any time soon. It is estimated that young people who will join the workforce in the next five years will go through as many as six different careers.


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More jobs will continue to be lost to automation than to work overseas. One in four jobs in the U.

Educational Requirements For The 21st Century: Liberal Arts Or Job-Specific? - Career Vision

How we teach students to be continuous learners, to be responsive to diverse and constantly changing circumstances, to be self reflective to find their core while being adaptive, are all qualities that will be more necessary than ever for everyone entering the workforce. Smaller staffs, slashed budgets, and lack of time require new hires to hit the ground running.

Entry-level marketing jobs now go to graduates with integrated marketing majors and at least one or two marketing internships. However, employers also want to hire graduates who are equipped with interdisciplinary knowledge and problem-solving abilities. Approaching complex problems with the capacity for big picture, integrated solutions is paramount. What is needed? An educational system which produces graduates with both specific job skills and the capacity to solve problems in innovative ways.

The Value of a Liberal Arts Background Today Historically, advocates of a liberal education wanted to produce engaged citizens who could carry out their civic, social and ethical responsibilities.

In a traditional liberal arts education, students gain a general foundation in the sciences and humanities. On campus, the academic majors under the liberal arts umbrella span a wide range of disciplines, and stem from the early educational model of a liberal arts education. They include:. The emphasis in the coursework for these majors provides broad exposure to the subject matter. Students are introduced to a more interdisciplinary approach to learning about and solving contemporary problems that may be global in scope.

Our jobs require multitasking. Our communities are multicultural. Our entertainment is multimedia. While detailed knowledge of a single area once guaranteed success, today the top rewards go to those who can operate with equal aplomb in starkly different realms. Everyone, including students, must master this integrated and collaborative approach to meet the demands of jobs in, as Pink says, our outsourced, automated and unpredictable world.

Liberal Arts in the 21st Century: Tom Gardner at TEDxBrownUniversity

Increasing the Employability of Liberal Art Majors Today, few students can afford to earn a liberal arts education solely for the pure joy of learning. The reality is that most students will have to get a job after graduation. It is imperative to view their liberal arts major as part of an educational pathway leading to employability. Some would say students majoring in liberal arts and those who are undecided majors have much in common.

Technology and Work in the 21st Century