Topic:  Liberal Education Under Siege (September 2014)


Over the last decade, as college costs have risen and federal expenditures on student financial aid have grown significantly, policy makers have become increasingly focused on quantitative outcome measures such as job placement and starting salaries as the primary proxy for educational quality and the justification for financial investment. These measures may, indeed, be appropriate for assessing some areas in vocational and technical programs, but they are not appropriate measures for assessing the quality and value of education generally. The ability to think, reason, write, speak a foreign language, understand the principles of government, and appreciate domestic as well as world history pay clear dividends in all aspects of life, including the workplace, but these dividends may not be easily quantified or even fully realized until years after the student graduates. A solid liberal arts education prepares one not for a particular job, but rather for any job requiring thoughtful discourse, strong interpersonal communication skills, and the ability as well as the desire to engage in lifetime learning.


In the following essays, AALE Board members reflect on the value of liberal education and the ‘dividends it pays in all aspects of life’:

Dominic A. Aquila. “General Culture and the Academy versus Liberal Education: What’s at Stake?” 

Diane Auer Jones. The Changing Role of Accreditation and the Changes proposed by USDE, Benefit or Menace?” 

Rodney K. Smith. The Rule of Law, Core Texts and Liberal Education

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