Why Liberal Arts, Now?

What is the value of the liberal arts in a high-speed, digitally centered, globalized world? This question is at the forefront of American educational debate today. How can a degree in the liberal arts prepare someone for the realities of the 21st-century world? The answer may surprise you.
The cornerstones of a liberal arts education are the classical ones. Students in the liberal arts become skillful written and oral communicators, and they carefully hone their reasoning skills as they learn to weigh all sides of an issue and use evidence to come to a logical decision. Students learn about their own cultural heritage and the cultures of peoples across the world. However, here at Christopher Newport, the great traditions of the past are enriched by all that that the present has to offer.

Our approach to the liberal arts is special in that we proudly stand with one foot firmly planted in the classical traditions of the past and one foot planted in the cutting-edge trends of tomorrow. We shy away from neither. We talk of classical theories of virtue and how they may relate to modern brain research. Our classrooms and studio spaces are state-of-the-art and our faculty-scholars are at the forefront of their disciplines. No other institution blends the best of the past, present and future as well as CNU.

It is this blending of the traditions of the past and the technology and trends of the present that make a degree in the liberal arts an ideal foundation for the future. In an April 2013 survey of employers by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU), 93 percent of employers indicated that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.” These are the very skills at the center of a liberal arts education. The AAC&U also found that when they described 21st-century liberal education to employers, 74 percent indicated they would “recommend this kind of education to a young person they know as the best way to prepare for success in today’s global economy.”

The liberal arts encompass a rich tapestry of disciplines that connect us to our shared intellectual and cultural past and future. They help us understand who we have been, who we are and who we aspire to become. Sharing in this grand endeavor is an excellent path to a successful future.

- Dean Lori Underwood