“Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing” – Steve Jobs
In today’s dynamic scenario, being a master of a single trait is surely not enough. Interdisciplinary education has become a pre-requisite and there is arising a greater need for and focus on how to put your education and skills to use. What if you get to study multiple courses from different fields to get a holistic, inter-disciplinary education in a degree program? A Liberal Arts education makes your wish come true.
What is Liberal Arts Education?
Liberal Arts is a multidisciplinary system of education that includes a diverse mix of subjects from various disciplines from humanities, sciences, commerce and technology. It aims to provide a learning experience that empowers students with the skills to deal with change, diversity and complexity, to make them problem solvers, critical thinkers and responsible members of the society.
Though you study multiple subjects in a Liberal Arts course, you still get to choose the subjects you wish to major in, as well as your minor subjects.
Liberal arts courses offer you great freedom to build the most interesting subject combinations. For instance if you choose Journalism as your major subject, you could choose from over 15 subjects for a minor subject, ranging from Economics, Finance, International Studies, HRM, Public Policy, Sociology, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Applied Mathematics, to Literary and Cultural Studies, Music, Dance, Design, Theatre, etc.
Depending on the choice of your subjects you get one of these degrees- B.A, B.A Hons, B.B.A, or B.Sc in Liberal Arts. Your degree depends on the stream you choose to major in. For instance if you major in Sociology, Economics or Media Studies, you get a degree of B.A (Liberal Arts) and if you choose Maths or Biology, you get a degree in B.Sc. (Liberal Arts).
Liberal Arts in India is most commonly offered as a three-year undergraduate degree. However, some universities do offer an optional fourth year. In a few universities, the curricula have in-built Liberal Arts courses, without a dedicated course to it.
Recommended Read: The Revolution in Learning: Liberal Arts Colleges in India
Why Do We Need a Liberal Arts Education at all?
Did you know that Liberal Arts is one of the oldest subjects in the world? It is strange that it is yet to make a deep foray into the Indian educational system. A study of Liberal Arts enables society to probe the boundaries of subjects including literature, language, history, philosophy, mathematics, psychology and science.
We all know that the challenges and opportunities of this century are drastically different from that of the last one in scale, scope, and pace. Increased automation, climatic changes, artificial intelligence and the vagaries of nature will call for greater resourcefulness on how we cope with change.
There is endless information available today to anyone who has a smartphone and an internet connection, and I feel it is more important for our youngsters to learn ‘how to think’ through complex problems by looking for solutions from different perspectives. Once the critically thinking side of the brain is activated, the perspectives start to matter.
India has a diverse economy and students really need to learn how to interact with different individuals regardless of their gender, caste, race, religion, or class. I’m sure these students who possess and develop such talents and skills will grow to become valuable employees, citizens, and ultimately ‘adapatively versatile’ human beings.
This is exactly what Liberal Arts as a stream aims to achieve- it produces critical thinkers, who have the confidence and flexibility to continually learn new skills and material.
Advantages of Getting a Liberal Arts Degree
With the valuable skills and knowledge that you master during the Liberal Arts degree program, you move closer towards finding a career that you are extremely passionate about. It puts a great many doubts to rest as you study an eclectic mix of your favoured subjects during your course.
Take a look at its major benefits:
- It prepares you for uncertainties in your career– A Liberal Arts education can translate to many different careers and you can ditch one in favour of another. As a college student, you can also have the option to change your mind down the road if you so desire! A liberal arts education has stood the test of time because skills like critical thinking and problem-solving never expire.
- You develop most sought-after soft skills– You polish your proficiency in writing, public speaking, presentation skills, collaboration work and creativity due to the nature of Liberal Arts courses.
- Improves your analytical and critical abilities– Developing critical thinking and analysis is one common aspect of Liberal Arts Education.
- Enhances cultural understanding– A broader understanding through interdisciplinary studies of sociology, cultural anthropology, philosophy, international studies, etc. prepares you for enhanced cultural understanding.
- Opens up a plethora of career options-With a liberal arts degree, you can branch out into many different careers, such as journalism, public relations, writing, law, politics, linguistics, publishing, social work, psychology, management, public policy, civil services, marketing– and a lot more.
- It makes you a better leader– Not just a political leader, a Liberal Arts degree helps you in leading teams through creating, collaborating, inspiring and innovating in the corporate world too.
- Prepares you for graduate school or masters- A degree in Liberal Arts expands your thinking and analytical abilities, giving you a better understanding through practical learning and deeper research. All these are prerequisites for higher studies and hence Liberal Arts lay a great foundation for your future education.
Career Options After Liberal Arts
There are so many interesting options in a Liberal Arts degree that are not available in a traditional graduate degree. Some of the colleges offering Liberal Arts offer you a range of foundation courses over the first few semesters before you can choose to take a well-informed decision on your major subject.
Liberal Arts in India allows you to major in subjects such as music, dance, public policy, entrepreneurship, film and TV, political economy of land and natural resources; desire, law and popular culture; and urban space, Theory and Policy in India, China and South Africa, History and International Relations, Computer Science and Entrepreneurship and Politics, Philosophy and Economics…whew! The list is endless. You can choose your minor subjects too from the same list.
Just imagine the career options that open up because of the interdisciplinary nature of education, which makes you a jack and master of all trades! Here are a few options you could consider:
- Public Policy
- Training & HR
- International Relations
- Public Relations
- Social Work
- Civil Services
- Journalism/Media/Mass Communication
- Corporate Communications
- Research and Writing
Recommended Read: World of Humanities: 6 Upcoming Careers You Need to Know About
Higher Education Opportunities after a Liberal Arts Degree
Being the heart and soul of education, Liberal Arts graduates do gain an unparalleled advantage over other graduates through their wider, in-depth and interdisciplinary education that prepares them for a career of learning and fulfilment.
- Post Graduation- You could do your masters in your major subject and follow it up by taking the NET exam for teaching at universities, or go abroad for Masters in the subject of your choice.
- Management Studies- You could go in for Management Studies to further sharpen your critical analysis and thinking.
- Civil Services- Administrative Services exams
- You can appear for entrance exams of TISS, Faculty of Law, MSE, IGIDR, etc.
Recommended Read: Young India Fellowship (YIF): My Journey From Application to Selection
In the words of Thomas Friedman in his book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century said, “In an age when parts or all of many jobs are constantly going to be exposed to digitization, automation, and outsourcing…it is not only what you know but how you learn that will set you apart. Because what you know today will be out-of-date sooner than you think.”
A Liberal Arts Education is what shall prevent you from becoming obsolete or redundant. Arm yourself with a futuristic looking education today.
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