Valuing the Liberal Arts

by Sofia Tokar

Nazareth College’s foundation is in the liberal arts, and in 2012, the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Enduring Questions program, recognized that by awarding the College of Arts and Sciences a $24,380 grant to develop “What Is the Value of a Liberal Arts Education?,” an undergraduate course taught by Professor of Philosophy Scott Campbell, Ph.D., and Professor of Music Marjorie Roth, Ph.D.

The goal of the course? To demonstrate the importance of the liberal arts to students from all academic majors and professional programs. In other words, students consider the nature of a liberal arts-based education not only in terms of career preparation, but also in the larger sense of building meaningful and satisfying lives.

“The liberal arts are essential to an education here at Nazareth College,” explains Campbell. “When our students graduate, they are extremely well-prepared to enter the workforce, and they have a sense of what it means to live a meaningful life. With this course, we wanted to give students an opportunity to reflect on the meaning and goals of their whole educational experience.”

The students who took the course, first taught by Campbell in spring 2013, echo that sentiment. “Everyone seems to think that we go to college just to get a job,” says Morgan Lloyd ’13, a philosophy major. “Until this course, I had forgotten that we are also in college to become well-rounded people, to see the bigger picture in life, and to appreciate it all the more.”

Casey Holland ’15, double majoring in history and religious studies, goes further, saying that “a liberal education is the discovery of what it means to be human. But the learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom; that’s when it just begins.”

In November, Campbell and Roth launched a web page for the course. It includes summaries of the texts, references to books and articles, and a section for students to comment on what they are learning or have learned about the liberal arts.

Campbell will teach the course again in spring 2014, and Roth will teach the course in the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015.

But both professors have long-term intentions for this project. “This grant has been a great opportunity to work across disciplines and combine our interests,” says Roth, who also directs the Honors Program. “But even after the grant is completed, we aim to have this course incorporated as part of the liberal arts core, and possibly a required component of the Honors Program.”

Sofia Tokar is a freelance writer in Rochester, New York.

Scott Campbell

Professor of Philosophy Scott Campbell, Ph.D., instructor for the undergraduate course “What Is the Value of a Liberal Arts Education?”

Visit the liberal arts course’s web page at