Contributed by Nivedita Nair
(A Liberal Arts Student in Pune, India)
For students who think liberal arts are meant for those that don’t get the coveted 85% plus, think again!
All the writers, copywriters, journalists, and the rest of society that brings that knowledge to the forefront have had a background in liberal arts.
It is an education that brings the best within the student to the forefront. A liberal arts education invites engineering students to study philosophy and history so as to put an ethos and sense of ethic into their study and doesn’t reduce arts and humanities students to unproductive members of society who ought to have chosen otherwise but equips them with critical thinking skills that take them farther than what an income from a job may give.
The intention and expectation of this is that a person who comes out of a liberal arts education with a degree is not a mere product that slots themselves into a market or an industry based on their BA, Bsc, or Bcom, but is a well-rounded individual who sees their education as more relevant to their personality and their passions, rather than their profession.
Liberal arts is not a stream like the very traditional division of science, commerce, and arts – the same division which tends to divide people who follow a stream within ‘productive’ members of society or ‘losers’. In fact, it is an ethos that stemmed out of ideals of education and academia that orient a student towards having a wholesome education in a specialization of their choice that is complimented by a variety of other subjects across fields.
According to the liberal arts ethos, education is not equated with occupation. It is an education provided in several universities in our country in the hopes of creating a generation of people who can pursue their interests and passions, cross the limitation of divisive streams, divisive thought, towards a cohesive society that orients itself with the freedom of thought and expression.
Hence, a liberal arts education outrightly and unabashedly promotes the intermingling and interdisciplinary study of law with history, the fine arts with mathematics, and other combinations as such. More often than not, liberal arts students graduate with a wealth of knowledge in multiple fields that in turn pushes them to turn their education into something that contributes to their sense of self and place in society and is not just one step towards a job and income.
On an individual and personal level, the privilege of a liberal arts education sustains itself on building and maintaining curiosity in everything, questioning everything, putting thought and action in the same place, and challenging the oppressive stark reality of life.
At the end of the day, a liberal arts education is for a person to whom contributing to the society at large is at least as important, if not more so, than the money you make from your profession.