Can Outcomes Save the Liberal Arts?


One of the great battles ongoing in American higher education centers on the continued vitality and relevance of a liberal arts education.   Nearly every American has seen some video variation of an underemployed liberal arts graduate at a fast food window asking: “Would you like biggie-sized fries with that?”

Historically, the defense of the liberal arts was much more high minded and cerebral. For those of us who made it, the argument was plausible and a feel good moment where we spoke of liberal arts graduates who were well-rounded and productive citizens.   Many of us still make it. We meant it. And, best yet perhaps, it was and still is true.

The problem is that while the argument is right, it no longer resonates with most American families. Higher education lives in a world that values inputs and is now only slowly coming to realize that the broader…

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