Liberal Arts at Centennial College

What is Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts Education is not just arts, but Arts and Sciences.  It is not defined by discipline or curriculum (except less profession and vocational-oriented) but by its distinctive teaching and learning ethos and processes. Liberal arts colleges are typically small in size, with about 1,000 to 1,500 students and at least 80% residential, so that faculty and staff can give each student more attention and provide them with more resources.



Liberal arts in the ancient past

Liberal arts education has its origin in ancient Greece, when a person was considered educated after he had learnt the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy). He could then participate in public debate, defend himself and serve in court and on juries, and perform military service. So the liberal arts taught in medieval universities included not just arts, but also sciences.

The The arts or sciences were "liberal" because they were liberating, i.e. they freed their possessor from the ignorance that bound the uneducated. The aim of such an education was to nurture whole-persons who could draw on their knowledge in different subject areas to solve problems, or what we may call Renaissance persons – individuals of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination". Great thinkers like Aristotle, Plato, Leonardo da Vinci and Francis Bacon have often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance person.


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Liberal arts in modern world

Today, the term “liberal arts” is often described as "a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement.” It entails a general education curriculum which provides broad exposure to multiple disciplines in a cross-disciplinary context amidst or in addition to in-depth study in one or more subject areas, so as to develop well-rounded global citizens or whole-persons who are highly articulate, knowledgeable, and have the capacity to pursue lifelong learning and become valuable members of their communities.