I predict that we will see some liberal arts colleges (most likely those that do not breath the rare air of the top 50) do the following in the next few years:*
1. Establish an Institute of the Liberal Arts within their campuses to create a meaningful symbol of the liberal arts and a college’s commitment. These “institutes” will focus attention on preserving the liberal arts and humanities and will create a centralized power structure to defend the liberal arts and humanities in an era of increasing professional orientation and STEM focus of liberal arts colleges nationwide.
2. These “institutes” will “take over” the general education program and will redefine the core curriculum in remarkable ways.
3. These “institutes” will redefine the outcomes of what the liberal arts accomplishes on a college campus. The refocusing of the liberal arts is likely to establish criteria each course in the general education program meets that directly relates to the outcomes of a liberal arts education (critical thinking, creative thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, communication, intercultural/generational communication, social and political engagement, etc). The general education program will become more “skills-based,” rather than content based, and will enable content from a wide range of subject areas to meet the skill standards necessary to fulfill what the liberal arts should teach, etc.
4. These “institutes” will redefine the “currency” of completing the liberals arts and will offer “badges” for successfully fulfilling the designated skills in each area of the liberal arts that the “institute” on each campus believes represents its version of the liberal arts.
5. Skill badges will be offered to a broader spectrum of students, including engineers, business grads, etc. who did not have a “liberal arts” education. Badge fulfillment will become a new revenue stream and offering badges will add value to the ideal of what the liberal arts do, etc.
My crystal ball…
W. Kent Barnds @bowtieadmission
*The beauty of the crystal ball that I have is that is can change any time.