i The Diversity and Values of a Liberal Arts School | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Megan Fabel

St. Norbert College states that: “We are dedicated to creating an environment that fosters learning and respect for individual and group differences across cultures, perspectives and beliefs as part of an educational environment that fosters intellectual, spiritual, and personal development”. SNC also is focusing on the word communio or the sense of a community on campus. That is one thing SNC values as a college, but there are many assertions and problems that come along with SNC calling themselves a Liberal Arts college; such as focusing their attention on the social sciences or the humanities rather than the business programs-SNC just build a brand new science center and is now partnering with the Medical College of Wisconsin to house a medical school on campus. With that, it may give SNC an appearance of “professionalizing” their programs rather that giving more of their focus on the coherence of their Liberal Arts promises.  Not that paying attention to those curriculums is a bad thing; it just takes away from the school’s focus of being a Liberal Arts college. SNC becomes less of a Liberal Arts school because they aren’t giving the full affect that they are promising when coming to a “Liberal Arts” school.

So, I’ve come up with three ways that could shift the focus on why St. Norbert is and can be a Liberal Arts school that is diverse in all sorts of ways, including: focusing on more of St. Norbert’s values on the diversity that the college has to offer, the ability to approach and find a balance to the diversity they give as a Liberal Arts school, and why having a liberal arts degree is worth it; why people should have one. Being a Liberal Arts school, SNC overall gives a great education program and really focuses on their values they have as a college. They need to keep on this rigorous track and keep making smart moves that help then keep their Liberal Arts status.

Focusing on more of the values that St. Norbert has to offer is only one idea that could make this school so much more diverse than it already is. Keeping a respect for the classes that are offered here are crucial. Sticking the money into more diverse classes is what allows SNC to keep its Liberal Arts background. If we give certain fields more money to expand their programs, than SNC can’t keep calling them what they are. For example, SNC is giving more money to our business fields by creating a master in the administration program, when they should be spending their hard earned cash on the humanities, or the social sciences; the fields that are what gives SNC the Liberal Arts name. Dr. Michael Lindsay, who is the president of Gordon College, wrote an article in The Huffington Post, referring to Who’s Afraid of the Liberal Arts?, and states that: “Indeed, the pendulum of popular opinion may have already begun its swing back toward a healthy respect for the humanities and social sciences”, giving the idea that those certain fields of study are what makes Liberal Arts what they are today.

But that’s not all; SNC needs to shape their academics into a more diverse setting that works for all races, religions, nationalities, etc. SNC is doing great things with their school but their lack of focus on the real topics of diversity such as the ethnicity, religious backgrounds and different cultural backgrounds are really hurting their image for what they stand to uphold as a Liberal Arts college and the themes they try to achieve. Another idea to keeping the value in the Liberal Arts is finding the ability to approach and find a balance to the diversity they give as a Liberal Arts school.

One thing that Liberal Arts colleges take great pride in is the ability to teach their students to think, talk and write in different ways that other colleges might not give. SNC presents itself with a ton of opportunities that accepts different cultures and religions into their campus by giving respectable classes that work for everyone.  SNC broadens their student’s horizons by giving more diverse fields of study and allow them to create a background of knowledge that is personalized to fit them. That is why teaching students at a more diverse state of mind is one value that Liberal Arts colleges take very seriously because they only want the best for their students they teach.  One last thing that keeps the thought and value in the Liberal Arts is sticking to a strict curriculum for SNC because it is ultimately the best thing for themselves as a college but also for the students that they are helping.

Adhering strictly to a Liberal Arts curriculum for St. Norbert is the best thing they can do for themselves. On the Forbes website, Vivek Randadive states that: “If anything, I think we should make the liberal arts education more rigorous. If you teach students one trade, that skill might be obsolete in a few years. But if you teach people how to think and look at lots of information and connect dots – all skills that a classic liberal education gives you”. This is all very true to a Liberal Arts college. They really try to focus on the diversity they give their students in achieving all they can for their future endeavors.

So overall, Liberal Arts colleges value the way they teach their students and the opportunities they give them for their future. To keep on the right path, Liberal Arts colleges really need to keep their focus on giving a more diverse way of learning and focusing their time and money on the things that will help their students for their futures. Spending money on the humanities and social sciences are only an example of two fields that really give a more diverse feel to when getting a Liberal Arts degree. They need to stay on track to providing their students with the values and opportunities that a Liberal Arts school should give them.

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