Should We Say Goodbye to the Phrase “Liberal Arts?”

Liberal Arts

First “evangelical” and now “liberal arts?”  Politics changes everything.  It is a powerful force with the potential to redefine our vocabulary.   Over at Inside Higher Ed, Michael Stoner argues that the phrase “liberal arts” is too politically loaded to be a useful descriptor of the kind of education many of us value.

Here is a taste:

In case you missed it, Gallup’s Brandon Busteed wrote in a blog post in August, that “putting the words liberal and arts together is a branding disaster.” As he noted,

Of course, there are abundant ironies in that statement, starting with the fact that we know that “liberal” arts don’t have much to do with “liberal” politics.

Yet that’s not how it appears. And  I see the value of moving beyond what is essentially academic jargon, no matter how much we appreciate the resonance of a term beloved by those of us in higher ed. If a term, concept, or approach is misunderstood or outright disdained by many people, any good marketer would tell you that it’s time for rebranding. So instead of trying to defend or explain what the “liberal arts” are, let’s move on.

Of course, I don’t suggest dropping the liberal arts (or rebranding “liberal arts” education). Instead, let’s focus on what’s important about the liberal arts.

The fact is that there is great value in a liberal arts education. So even if we stop using the term “liberal arts” in describing an institution or an educational approach, there’s still lot to talk about.

Read the entire post here.