What are the Liberal Arts? And Why is There a Push Towards Interdisciplinary Teaching at University?
Studying the Liberal Arts has been a long-founded in Western, and perhaps Eastern society.
The social history of the Liberal Arts dates back to the classical tradition of the trivium in Ancient Greece that prescribed the learning of grammar, logic and rhetoric to students. This tradition was revived and modified in during the medieval period in the quadrivium, comprised of teachings in consisted arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy – the four additional subjects to the teaching of trivium.
In the recent years, studying the Liberal Arts as an academic discipline has become increasingly popular among students and within British universities.
Though the idea of a multidisciplinary degree is has insisted in UK institutions in Higher Education through combined or Joint Honours programmes that allow students to specialise in two-to-three subjects, Liberal Arts is a relatively new concept in Britain.
Traditionally an American college (“university”) tradition, Liberal Arts degree programmes are renowned for their interdisciplinary approach to education and learning.
Most programmes are comprised of courses across the humanities and social sciences, covering subjects such as philosophy, literature, history and political science.
Normally, students would have the chance to Major or Minor in a specific field of study that best reflected their professional or scholarly interests.
What makes the courses so popular in the US is that it is universal with most institutions following this style of teaching. This enables students to explore and develop new ideas or even engage in collaborative research.
Notwithstanding some careers do require a specific non-liberal degree, such as medicine or ICT but the general consensus is that with the universality of the education system across states, many students leave university as polymaths mastering multiple disciplines, becoming more well-rounded and adaptable to many career opportunities.
“A new style of graduate who is more rounded and able to solve problems.”London Interdisciplinary School
Hence, the main reason for the new trajectory in education systems outside of the United States is that the comprehensive overview of Liberal Arts degrees provides a strong background for the student to work in a variety of fields.
In the UK, many universities are now offering courses that combines focus on the humanities, sciences and languages. One institution that has moved beyond the traditional curriculum is the London Interdisciplinary School.
The School has launched a new undergraduate programme that will enrol it’s new Cohort in 2020. The curriculum will integrate academic studies with real-world problem-solving through practical expedience to “[equip] students with knowledge and methods from the arts, sciences, and humanities” to meet the challenges of the 21st Century by finding new solutions to complex problems through an interdisciplinary lens.