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 construct their own animating questions, some possible examples include:

  • How is religion related to medicine?
  • How do liberal arts schools in East Asia prepare students for the particular challenges of the job market?
  • What is the distinction between professional and other courses?
  • What is the relationship between the arts and sciences today? Does architecture embody this connection or does it defy it?

Thematic Inquiry

The Thematic Inquiry course will open with two related questions: “What does the liberal arts mean?" and "Why did I choose to attend a liberal arts college?” It will culminate with students stating their animating questions and proposing their future courses 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.