Take part in the liberal arts tradition while critically examining it. Explore the meaning of the liberal arts from its origins to the present.

This Pathway, by exploring the meaning of the liberal arts from its historical origins to the present, will allow students to make informed assessments of the continuing relevance of the liberal arts as a model for higher education and engaged citizenship. What does it mean to say that Connecticut College is a liberal arts college? Where does this model come from? What is its significance today and what might it look like a century from now? By requiring students to engage with disciplines represented by the seven traditional areas of the liberal arts, this Pathway offers students the opportunity to take part in the liberal arts tradition while critically examining it.

While students will construct their own animating questions, some possible examples might be:

  • What does one need to know to be a free person?
  • What is the relationship between the arts and sciences?
  • What are the social implications of providing a liberal arts education?
  • Is the liberal arts constrained by its Western origins?

Thematic Inquiry

The Thematic Inquiry will be a single team-taught course, consisting of six two-week units. The course will open with two related questions: “What does the liberal arts mean? Why did I choose to attend a liberal arts college?” The course will culminate with students stating their animating questions and proposing their future Curricular Itinerary and Global/Local Engagement. Units will typically include an overview of the origins of the liberal arts; the cultural and political context of the liberal arts (including athletics); mathematics and the liberal arts; astronomy and the liberal arts; music (or some other creative art); and philosophy or theology. The overall purpose of the course is to provide a thoughtful and unified introduction to the liberal arts, from which students will branch out to consider a wide variety of disciplines and animating questions.

Global/Local Engagement

Each Pathway requires students to pursue purposeful engagement in a local or international context, such as study away, an internship, or community-based learning.

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