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Discover the Liberal Arts
UND graduates are entering a new global economy where technological literacy is required, but these workers will need much more than up-to-date technology skills during the decades their careers span. Tomorrow’s workers need to be able to communicate, interpret, and analyze the world they find, often working with others in highly interdisciplinary environments.
In a survey of more than 300 employers, 91 percent reported they plan to assign a higher level of responsibility to employees and ask them to use more extensive skill sets than in the past. These workers will be asked to do more by their employers, and will likely themselves changes jobs, and careers, several times during their working years. A degree in the liberal arts prepares graduates to meet the world as they find it, and adapt as it changes.
Why study liberal arts?
Historically, the study of the liberal arts was meant to produce citizens who could participate in government and make thoughtful, and enlightened decisions. In this way, graduates are equipped to learn and apply integrative learning habits in their personal, professional and civic lives.
What do you mean by "liberal arts?"
Think - liberty. The "liberal" in liberal arts has less to do with our current political debates and much more to do with the historical use of the term. Educating citizens so that they may participate in and contribute to society has always been the goal of a liberal education.
"Liberal Education: An approach to college learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. This approach emphasizes broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g., science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth achievement in a specific field of interest. It helps students develop a sense of social responsibility; strong intellectual and practical skills that span all major fields of study, such as communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills; and the demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.Association of American Colleges and Universities
What do employers want?
Liberal arts doesn't train you for a narrow specialty. Rather, the purpose of a liberal arts education is lifelong-learning, exploration, and discovery. Classes in liberal arts disciplines often involve writing, crafting an argument, supporting a point of view with research, and defending or discussing your idea with others. These skills don't apply to one field--they apply to many. Evidence suggests this is what employers are looking for. In a survey of more than 300 employers , the areas in which they felt colleges needed to increase their focus most include:
1) written and oral communication - 89%
2) critical thinking and analytical reasoning - 81%
3) the application of knowledge and skills in real-world settings - 79%
4) complex problem-solving and analysis - 75%
5) ethical decision-making - 75%
6) teamwork skills - 71%
7) innovation and creativity - 70%
8) concepts and developments in science and technology - 70%
That's how much the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) estimates the arts and cultural production industry adds to the U.S. GDP. From video game design to publishing, the arts shape our experiences, and contribute significantly to our bottom line.
Liberal arts graduates often build careers in fields other than those for which they were trained. This is a strength of the liberal arts: cross-cutting skills that can be applied to multiple fields.
Despite the benefits to our society, this is the percentage of federal research money that went to the humanities in 2010. Evidence suggests we underfund and under-appreciate these fields to our detriment.
"Fields of expertise that are sometimes overlooked can suddenly become urgently necessary to our national life. After the 9/11 attacks, intelligence intercepts from the Arab world sat unread because we lacked people adequately trained in this suddenly strategic language, which is not learned in a day. Whatever one’s politics, we can agree that the wars of the past decade have underlined the difficulty of fighting abroad without a subtle understanding of foreign histories, social constructs, belief systems, languages, and cultures."
Simply put, you may not realize where you will apply all the skills you learn in a liberal arts discipline until you have.
Liberal Arts at UND
We live in a world where more pictures are taken every two minutes than were taken by all of humanity during the 1800s (Fstoppers.com). Technologic advancements, and the needs of the business community, will always outpace traditional college education. In both cases, innovation is their “most important comparative advantage,” (AAC&U, 2007, p. 16). This is good news for UND’s liberal arts graduates who can think independently, adapt to change, and bring to bear the broad range of analytical skills they acquire in college. Their strong foundation in interdisciplinary learning can often lead to original insights and unconventional thinking—where innovation begins.
Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2007). College Learning for the New Global Century . Washington, DC.
Building on this foundation through essential studies, students in the College of Arts & Sciences undertake rigorous coursework in one of 18 departments, or 11 special programs. Each department or program is different, creating a unique blend of liberal and applied learning in the context of each respective field. Through the context of each department or program, liberal arts students develop knowledge and skills that cut across disciplines.
Students in liberal arts disciplines are successful in preparing for graduate education and the job market. A recent poll of UND graduates found 82 percent reported they were employed, and 13 percent were pursuing additional education. Of these graduates, more than four in five reported their current employment was related to the education they received from UND.
Arts & Sciences make a difference
The UND College of Arts & Sciences aims to educate the “whole” person. While the push to encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields is important, it is insufficient. Narrow specialization is more than limiting to graduates in the short term, it can ultimately delay or derail their careers in an economy that demands strategic thinkers, and innovative decision makers. Looking to the future, the U.S. will need more than scientists—they will need scientists who can communicate the importance of their ideas, theories, and discoveries in meaningful ways to the public. These are the skills that make liberal arts graduates the creative, adaptive, and resilient professionals and leaders many of them become.
The U.S. workforce is changing, and preparing today’s students for the realities of 21st century careers is a daunting challenge, but one the liberal arts is prepared to take up. For liberal arts graduates, the path between a degree and a career often requires trailblazing. Students pursuing liberal arts degrees are realistic about these challenges, and know managing their careers will take perseverance, ingenuity, and imagination.
In one sentence:
"If traditional rationales for humanistic study were to be condensed into a single sentence, that sentence might be the following: The scholarly study of documents and artifacts produced by human beings in the past enables us to see the world from different points of view so that we may better understand ourselves."
— Geoffrey Harpham , The Humanities and the Dream of America (2011)
Liberal Arts majors are in demand. The skills we emphasize, writing, communication, adaptability, teamwork, etc., transfer to a broad range of fields.
- Most Valuable Career Skills, Time Magazine
- Job Skills Companies Want But Can't Get, Bloomberg 2015
- The Unexpected Value of the Liberal Arts, 2017
- The 10 Skills Employers Want Most in 2015 Graduates: Teamwork, Decision-Making, Ability to Influence
- Four Skills Every Tech Professional Should Have, July '17
- Top 10 Employability Skills: #1 - Employers want people who can communicate
- Employer Priorities for Most Important College Learning Outcomes, 2015
- Hedge Fund Manager Reveals Why He Loves Hiring Liberal Arts Majors 1/17
- Top Skills and Values Employers Seek in Jobseekers
- Humanities vs. STEM, Redux
- What are the top ten skills that employers want?
- How the humanities support economy
- Why Some M.B.A.s Are Reading Plato 5/14
- Be Employable, Study Philosophy 3/14
- Who Knew? Arts Education Fuels the Economy 3/14
- The Skills Employers Are Looking For, CNBC 2015
- Politician-Public Divide 2/14
- How Liberal-Arts Majors Fare Over the Long Haul 1/14
- Faust/Marsalis: The art of learning 12/13
- The Real Reason New College Grads Can't Get Hired 11/13
- Employers and Public Favor Graduates Who Can Communicate, Survey Finds 9/13
- Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires 7/13
- Companies push 'soft skills' on top of technical ones 6/13
- What Employers Wish You'd Learned In College 3/12