In 2013 I was lucky to embark on a degree course that has its origins 2,500 years ago. While its ancient form was criticised for exclusivity, the Modern Liberal Arts programme, one that largely differs from that currently practised in the US, has a chequered history and incorporates the writings of those who were severely punished for heresy, were seen to have incited or partaken in revolution, and who have been either exiled or executed for advocating free thought and the questioning of convention. In sum, those among many who have contributed to the considered freedoms we have today.
This unique and holistic form of study will always, by its nature, be subversive, will always struggle, perhaps rightly in terms of proper reflection, against tides of stratified systems, the fear of change, the primacy of accepted ideas of success and suspicions against independent thought, but the hope is that one day education will embrace, at least in equal part to the currently established ‘traditional’ curriculum, the thinking space that Liberal Arts offers everyone of all ages for the contemplation of what it really means to them to be human. I will forever feel privileged to have been involved in this post-Renaissance Liberal Arts revival…’ [Sem Vine, MLA 2013-16]
‘A philosophical liberal arts education is … a human-focused education which, through broad-based and pluralistic subject matter and philosophical enquiry into the questions of human existence, can begin to nurture students with the aim of fostering a resilient and intellectually rounded graduate…
A post-foundational liberal arts education which embraces difficulty, complexity and uncertainty does not patronise students or give them false belief in the stability of the world. It is able to be fluid and adapt to the conversations which derive from the teaching and learning experience and in doing so it moves with the currents of cultural and economic instability rather than remaining fixed and stagnant. This creates a modern graduate with an understanding of the difficulty inherent in twenty-first century life (Adam Smith, MLA graduate 2017, from Educational Philosophy and Theory, forthcoming).