The Need for Liberal Arts
"Liberal Arts students are among the brightest critical thinkers... They have been taught how to think and how to learn. The list of skills includes many that CEOs would give their kingdom to have in a manager".
Chairman, President and CEO, Exide Corporation
Formerly Chairman and COO of Chrysler
Unarticulated educational needs
Engineering, Architecture, Computer Sciences, Arts, Commerce and other professional programmes are very discipline-specific and do little to expose students to the larger picture, to the world around them. B.A. and M.A. programmes are often irrelevant and uninspiring. Most students do not have much to look forward to when they graduate. With the "disconnect" between education and the employment market, students in many academic programmes do not find a job to match their educational qualifications. Awareness of this possibility naturally creates a sense of defeat and despair right from their first year of study.
Towards a more complete education
While a complete paradigm shift in education may take a few years, there is an immediate need for education that complements and supplements the standard education students receive. With the purpose of creating and nurturing a truly well-rounded, thinking individual. A person who has breadth of vision and perspective.
The changing workplace
Skill sets or expertise in a particular area are the basic requirements for anyone seeking a job today. For example, knowledge of computers has become mandatory for almost any job, and is no longer considered an advantage. Those who depend only on their qualifications can be easily replaced by others.
In growth sectors like Information Technology, knowledge and skills get outdated rapidly as new knowledge is created everyday, and new technology demands new skills. There is enormous pressure on today's professional to keep learning new things, just to survive.
Information Technology, the Internet, the entry of multi-national corporations, all these factors have altered work styles, functions and responsibilities. This change has just started, and it is only going to get faster.
The need of the hour is for a different kind of professionalsomeone who not just survives, but thrives in this changing and challenging new environment. Today, the focus is no longer on just skills and knowledge. The new economy demands abilities of a higher order.
New demands on today's professional
Some of the most sought after qualities in today's professional are not just skill sets or narrow expertise, especially in those areas where what you learn today is outdated tomorrow.
The prized qualities today are the intangible oneslong term perspective; the ability to see the Big Picture; to cope with uncertainty; to function across disciplines; to absorb, sift through material and quickly grasp knowledge; to deal with all kinds of people. The time of narrow specialisation is over; we are in the age of the generalists.
Most of the courses available today, professional or otherwise, do not even attempt to address the need for such qualities. And these are the kind of qualities that only a Liberal Arts education can give you.
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