- Lori Allen Ph.D
General Education Director
What Is a Liberal Arts Education?
A liberal arts education stimulates inquiry, critical thinking, and a desire for a deeper understanding of subject matter. This, in turn, allows you to transfer and apply your knowledge from one subject area to another. The American Association of Colleges and Universities defines a liberal arts education as: "one that prepares us to live responsible, productive, and creative lives in a dramatically changing world." It "fosters a well-grounded intellectual resilience," an interest in lifelong learning, and "an acceptance of responsibility for the ethical consequences of our ideas and actions."
A Brief History of Liberal Arts Education
A liberal arts education has been the foundation of American higher education since the late 18th Century. It is the academic core of the University of Wisconsin-System, and all UW campuses view the teaching of liberal arts as central to their missions.
Traditionally grouped around the physical and natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities, the liberal arts are the basis of all our educational programs. In response to our changing needs, the liberal arts have changed, resulting in the creation of programs like women's studies, criminal justice, and environmental studies.
What Is a Liberal Arts Education at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside?
One of our primary goals is to prepare students to be successful in their professional, civic and personal lives. A liberal arts education takes you beyond training for a specific career and establishes the knowledge and a fundamental set of skills that will serve you throughout your life. It gives you opportunities to develop your analytical and problem-solving abilities, as well as a better understanding of cultures and ethnicities. Liberal arts education also develops the skills and awareness vital to the success of citizens of an advanced technological society, and habits of mind that promote lifelong learning, responsible actions, and independent thinking. Complementary to these skills are opportunities for you to become literate in civic, cultural, aesthetic, international, scientific, and technical subjects.
Why Are There Required Courses?
The general university requirements are not meant to be a hurdle for you to overcome, but an education in the fullest sense, establishing skills fundamental to personal and professional success. Employers consistently want to hire people who are well-rounded, who are critical thinkers and problem solvers, who have a high level of oral and written communication skills, and who can work successfully with others. These skills and capabilities are the core of the general education program.
What Is the General Education Program?
The purpose of a general education in the liberal arts at Parkside is twofold: 1) to acquire a knowledge and skill set used across all academic disciplines; and 2) to become aware that knowledge is diverse and composed of different principles and methodologies.
What Is Required to Reach These Goals?
All Parkside graduates must have achieved competency in the following areas:
Literacy: reading and writing for understanding and effective communication
Oral communication: listening, speaking and presenting effectively
Information technology competence: using modern information technology to retrieve and transmit information
Creative expression: communicating through artistic statement
Ethical thinking: recognizing and analyzing ethical issues and actions
Scientific thinking: understanding and applying the scientific method
Analytical skills: understanding how to produce and interpret quantitative and qualitative information
Aesthetic skills: critiquing and appreciating the fine arts (literary, visual, and performing)
Social and Personal ResponsibilityIndividual accountability: understanding what a responsible choice is and that one's present education and lifelong learning is a personal responsibility
Civic engagement: learning to use knowledge and skills to contribute to the community
Global perspective: acquiring the knowledge and skills that provide an understanding of international/global issues and processes
Teamwork: working effectively with others for a common goal
These competencies are achieved by taking courses in three broad areas:Humanities and the Arts
Social and Behavioral Science
How Will I Know I've Acquired These Competencies?
The competencies are embedded in course work throughout your college career. The assessment of these competencies is part of our evaluation of your work in the course. It is essential that you take personal responsibility for meeting degree requirements, but you don't have to do this alone. You are urged to take full advantage of the advising help here on campus. The faculty and staff are here to assist you – ASK QUESTIONS!