Lib­eral arts pre­pare stu­dents for a chang­ing world

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - By Brian F. Lin­nane

Every spring, I shake 1,200 hands as our stu­dents take their fi­nal steps as Loy­ola Univer­sity Mary­land stu­dents. By the time they grad­u­ate, most of them know what im­me­di­ately awaits them in the next chap­ter of their lives.

In this fast-paced, ever-evolv­ing world, how­ever, those new grad­u­ates may not know what they will be do­ing pro­fes­sion­ally in a few short years, never mind in a decade or two. Af­ter all, many of the jobs that ex­ist to­day won’t be needed to­mor­row. And many of the jobs that will be needed to­mor­row are po­si­tions we can’t imag­ine to­day.

Still, our grad­u­ates can feel con­fi­dent that they are ready even for those un­cre­ated jobs for a sin­gle rea­son: the lib­eral arts ed­u­ca­tion they have re­ceived. Be­cause the best ed­u­ca­tion doesn’t train stu­dents for that first job; it ed­u­cates them for every pos­si­bil­ity life will present in the fu­ture.

That’s the value of the lib­eral arts. The lib­eral arts give stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to learn crit­i­cal think­ing skills, be­come eru­dite speak­ers and writ­ers, and gain knowl­edge in a breadth of top­ics that will in­form what­ever path they choose. The lib­eral arts also in­tro­duce stu­dents to deeply per­sonal and so­cial ques­tions: What is my des­tiny? What is my role with re­gard to oth­ers in the world? By ask­ing those fun­da­men­tal ques­tions, stu­dents gain a foun­da­tion in ethics that helps them achieve per­sonal and pro­fes­sional suc­cess.

To­day’s world needs in­tel­lec­tu­ally curious grad­u­ates who ask ques­tions — im­por­tant ques­tions — and who are will­ing to seek so­lu­tions.

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