The Graduate School and the Decline of Liberal Education

The Graduate School and the Decline of Liberal Education

The Graduate School and the Decline of Liberal Education

The Graduate School and the Decline of Liberal Education

Excerpt

In the United States, liberal education once occupied the center of the academic stage. Indeed, for a long period it was the only type of higher education available to American youth. In those days to hold the degree of Bachelor of Arts marked a man at once as a person of high endowment and achievement. Happily, to some extent the liberal arts degree still continues to be a hallmark of intellectual standing.

But generally the institutions established to provide liberal education now languish. They have lost their hold upon Americans. Less than half the first degrees awarded by institutions of higher education are now granted by liberal arts colleges, and the percentage steadily falls. Moreover, many of these degrees are granted to students whose general education has been all but smothered by the highly specialized academic and vocational courses added during recent decades with the purpose of helping the liberal arts colleges keep their financial heads above water.

Why have these dramatic changes occurred in the status of liberal education? What are the root causes of the present weakened condition of the liberal arts institutions? The causes of their decline are varied and complex. But perhaps the situation can best be summed up in the simple idea that they have lost their sense of special purpose. The cause . . .

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