Looking back to Ancient Greece, it was believed that having a Liberal Arts education was a sign of being an ultimate intellectual. This education model consists of a holistic approach to education and is widely established in the United States. According to the consortium of European Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ECOLAS), there are thirty-five Liberal Arts and Sciences Institutions in Europe, LCC International University is one of them. The Liberal Arts education model encompasses a wide variety of majors, including literature, psychology, political science, philosophy, and more, providing an opportunity to have a career in many different fields demonstrating a plethora of gained skills. Previous generations focused on the more narrowed, traditional academic fields choosing specific studies, and now the new generation is recognizing the change in the work pattern, seeking more freedom, flexibility, and innovation in education. Together with J.D. Mininger, the Vice President for Academic Affairs here at LCC and a distinguished expert in the fields of politics, literature, and art, we discussed the benefits of the Liberal Arts education model, career prospects for graduates holding this type of degree, and shared insights on the changes in the workplace for the future generations.
Initially, the modern use of Liberal Arts covers four areas: arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Looking back to classical antiquity and medieval times, the key aspects of Liberal Arts education formed from the quadrivium and trivium disciplines that cover astronomy, mathematics, geometry, music, grammar, logic, and rhetoric that formed the latter - the conjunction of seven liberal arts. The defining characteristic of this type of education is its academic orientation, as opposed to vocational. During the educational journey, one is exposed to the acquisition of academic qualities, such as the ability to collect and analyze data, think beyond the given data, develop independent and critical thinking, and gain problem-solving skills.
As a Liberal Arts educational institution, LCC International University emphasizes eight core competencies: conflict transformation, multicultural perspective, effective communication, critical thinking, Christian worldview, servant leadership, multidisciplinary knowledge, and community building. The definition of liberal arts education takes into account quantitative diversity of course work but further emphasizes the importance of student self-transformation. “The original vision for LCC in its genesis and early years remains its core identity today: a Christian Liberal Arts university educating future leaders in Lithuania, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. The liberal arts model pairs broad, interdisciplinary learning alongside the traditional majors, and emphasizes strong skills in critical thinking and empathetic communication in all disciplines,” says J.D. Mininger, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs at LCC International University.
Enrolling in one of the oldest education programs is beneficial personally and professionally too. Professionally, Liberal Arts education graduates are equipped with the foundational skills to entrench in various industries or a specific field of their expertise. For example, graduates who are willing to explore different industries and organizations, to acquire even more necessary skills, contacts, and to collect experiences along the way will eventually find a way to merge all interests and strengths in a more compelling and fulfilling career. Strong and well-developed talents with basic social skills are pivotal in the ever-changing, innovative workplaces now more than ever. The benefits however are not only professional. Looking from a personal perspective, such education is considered to provide skills to become a valuable member of the community in general. The core values taught in Liberal Arts education can enable one to adapt and thrive in the world, communicate with empathy, and understand other individuals. It gives a broad spectrum of perspectives and theories in life that can easily be applied in a professional and personal environment. As Prussian philosopher and linguist, Wilhelm von Humboldt once said, “There are undeniably certain kinds of knowledge that must be of a general nature and, more importantly, a certain cultivation of the mind and character that nobody can afford to be without. If the basis is laid through schooling, vocational skills are easily acquired later on, and a person is always free to move from one occupation to another, as so often happens in life.”
Pursuing a degree in Liberal Arts helps with success in the fast-paced world as professionals, and also helps solve the complexities of today’s challenges by developing various creative solutions in the workplace. This education model offers great practical value and the most notable outcomes correlate closely with the needs of employers. Employers recognize that Liberal Arts graduates have the necessary transferable skills to adapt to the ever-changing workplace. Trained to be flexible and adaptable students are well equipped to navigate courageously in the job market. With a Liberal Arts degree, graduates have plenty of career path opportunities to pursue and learn more about the world across many industries. The fields vary from continuing current expertise in the world of academia, education and art to exploring the fields of marketing, law, finance or politics. “Many employers, if not most, are looking for job candidates who are well trained, though not necessarily specifically trained in traditional, narrow academic fields. What they are looking for are “experts” in communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking,” says J.D. Mininger. These are the four key learning outcomes of a Liberal Arts education, which are additionally learned to the chosen traditional field of expertise. Although having a multidisciplinary background is beneficial, for some it might seem as a tough mission, as it is challenging to have a clear-cut road to the perfect profession immediately after university. Higher education institutions aim to prepare students to become life-long learners, so they thrive throughout the whole career path, not just in their first job.
Education in Liberal Arts is very broad and diverse, thus this degree is meant to prepare students for general employment opportunities and to build up the necessary skill set to succeed in the working world in the twenty-first century. Apart from much sought success in the professional sphere, it is important to remember the benefits of Liberal Arts model for personal growth too. LCC International University is one of the universities in Lithuania to offer liberal arts education, having six Bachelor degree programs and two Master’s programs. LCC graduates are some of the most promising rising talents, well-equipped for the professional field, as the shifts in workplaces are inevitable and new generations are predicted to be the ones to change career paths more times than the previous generations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, LCC understood the need to establish Liberal Arts education and raise a different generation of graduates within the former Soviet Union, thus it started spreading awareness on democratic ideals, developing market economies, and rebuilding the network of civil society. Today, Liberal Arts education remains one of the most important foundations for professional and personal life.