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Welcome to the IU School of Liberal Arts!
A liberal arts education begins with the premise that one's world and one's self are at the core of the pursuit of knowledge. It leads to viewing the world from more than one perspective and learning something about its social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions. Those different perspectives within the liberal arts encompass two major groups of academic disciplines: the humanities, which explore the history and experience of human culture, and the social sciences, which examine the social and material foundations of human life. Regardless of the perspective, the focus in the liberal arts is on knowledge itself, on both its substance and the tools for pursuing it, on what is known and what is worth knowing. Skills for acquiring and generating knowledge, as well as the preservation of knowledge, are enfolded within the School of Liberal Arts curriculum.
Liberal arts graduates are expected to read and listen effectively and to speak and write clearly and persuasively. They learn how to think critically and creatively. As perceptive analysts of what they read, see, and hear, liberal arts students are expected to be able to reason carefully and correctly and to recognize the legitimacy of intuition when reason and evidence prove insufficient. They learn to use various analytical tools, such as mathematics and statistics, to enable them to undertake quantitative analysis when such a strategy is appropriate.
Furthermore, students in the liberal arts, by developing communication skills in both English and at least one foreign language, equip themselves to communicate with others within their own culture and different cultures. This ability to communicate requires insights into diverse patterns of thought and modes of expression. Such insights allow students to identify universal, as well as unique, aspects of their culture, their community, and themselves.
Students in the liberal arts spend a substantial amount of time studying local and international human communities. Students cultivate an informed sensitivity to global and environmental issues by exploring the range of social, geographic, economic, political, religious, and cultural realities influencing world events.
Liberal arts students do not limit their studies to the here and now. A liberal arts education requires the development of a historical consciousness, so that students can view the present within the context of the past, can appreciate tradition and what the preservation of knowledge implies, and can understand the critical forces that influence the way we think, feel, act, and speak.
In the midst of discussions of theoretical frameworks and appropriate methods of gathering and verifying data, liberal arts students consider social problems such as poverty, pollution, crime, racism, and sexism. Such consideration leads to an even greater appreciation of the dynamics of change and of what different perspectives have to offer.
A quality liberal arts education also includes an appreciation of literature and the arts and the cultivation of the aesthetic judgment that makes possible the enjoyment and comprehension of works of the creative imagination.
The liberal arts curriculum helps students examine ethical perspectives, so that they can formulate and understand their own values, become aware of others' values, and discern the ethical dimensions underlying many of the decisions that they must make. The issues discussed and the individuals and points of view studied help define the citizen as an informed and responsible individual.
This course of study implies that to be educated is to be tolerant, open to others and their ideas, and willing to admit the validity of alternative approaches. Interdisciplinary courses in which students are asked to consider the same subject from varied perspectives enhance that aspect of the liberal arts education.
General knowledge of the liberal arts provides a firm foundation for productive and responsible citizenship. When professional and personal decisions and actions are informed by knowledge, rationality, and compassion, they make the greatest contribution to a better world.
The broad knowledge and course of study described above as characteristic of a good liberal arts education are coupled with an in-depth exploration of at least one particular academic discipline, a major. Liberal arts students acquire a coherent, sophisticated understanding of a major body of knowledge with all its complexities, unique methodologies, power, and limitations. The major provides a foundation for additional academic study or for advancement within a chosen career. But because of the demanding general requirements, a liberal arts course of study protects students from the pitfalls of overspecialization too early in their postsecondary education.
A liberal arts education is an ideal preparation for life and profession, encouraging students to pursue subsequent specialization within a framework of intellectual breadth and creativity. More than just training for today's occupations, however, the humanities and social sciences offer students the skills and flexibility they will need as they move on to careers and occupations not yet known or imagined.
All in all, no individual, whether just out of high school or returning to college after being away for decades, can find a better course of study for the present and the future, for the personal and the professional, than one in the IU School of Liberal Arts.
Who Should Use This Bulletin
The 2010-2012 Bulletin of the School of Liberal Arts presents the degree requirements for all students admitted for fall semester 2010 through summer term 2012. Students admitted to the School of Liberal Arts must satisfy degree requirements as described herein. Students accepted to the School of Liberal Arts prior to fall semester 2008 and continuously enrolled since then (excluding summer sessions) either may meet the school's requirements at the time they were initially accepted as a liberal arts major or they may elect the requirements as described below. Students who are not continuously enrolled or who take more than eight years of enrollment to complete their degrees should confer with the associate dean for student affairs in the school to determine the requirements applicable to their degrees.