What is your vision for the future of liberal arts education?

Our society, the way we live, and the way we learn are constantly changing. In the 21st century, technology has been advancing at an exponential rate, impacting every aspect of our lives. This includes education. The liberal arts may be rooted in tradition; however, that does not been they have gone untouched by technology. Many liberal arts colleges have introduced new curricula to accommodate students interested in booming STEM fields such as computer science. Here at Oxy, we have a computer science minor, as well as the 3-2 engineering exchange program with Caltech and Columbia. We also have our fair share of modern technology for student and faculty use. A prime example is the new media wall in Johnson Hall, which showcases content from different courses across the College. There is also the new Digital Production Studio in the library, which has a 3D printer, 3D scanner, Raspberry Pi, and a few other cool gadgets that students can experiment with. These are all examples of different ways in which the liberal arts experience is changing and expanding at Oxy.

There has been a decreasing demand for a liberal arts education recently. This may be attributed to an increase in demand for vocational studies, lack of big research that large universities offer, cost of a private education, and many more factors. So how can liberal arts institutions live on into the future and not become a relic of the past? I believe they must keep their traditional, broad curricula while expanding opportunities for students to study in technical fields. One of growing trends in educational technology is online education, which Anya Kamanetz explores in her piece, “How We Get There.” She argues that, “the prospect of a landscape dominated by explicitly market-driven universities and edupreneurs can seem distasteful—a travesty of the dream of free and open education, encroaching even further on the ideal of education as a public good” (Kamanetz 126). Online for-profit universities are becoming an issue because many students who graduate with online degrees are unable to repay their student loans. However, MOOCs, a relatively new player in the education technology field, are usually free to aspiring learners. Though most MOOCs do not grant students a degree, they are great for gaining knowledge in a specific topic. Currently, most liberal arts schools are opposed to offering MOOCs because of their lack of personal interaction. However, I think in the near future, liberal arts schools will need to provide MOOCs to stay visible to prospective students and attract those students.

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