Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

2017 Edition
| Editors: Michael A. Peters

Liberal Arts Education

  • Patrik Mehrens
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-588-4_483



Liberal arts education is a model for undergraduate nonvocational studies most commonly practiced in the United States, at residential liberal arts colleges and collegiate universities. Its origins can be traced to the ancient, medieval, and Renaissance practices of artes liberales, although modern varieties are deeply affected by and dependent on reforms of higher education in the United States during the nineteenth century. Liberal arts education is associated with a holistic approach to learning, stressing the importance of intellectual, emotional, and moral growth of students. The model includes educational breadth and general education requirements and aims at character formation, critical thinking, communication abilities, and the development of leadership and good citizenship. Like other forms of college education, liberal arts education in the United States is often...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bourke, B., Bray, N., & Horton, C. C. (1999). Approaches to the core curriculum: An exploratory analysis of top liberal arts and doctoral-granting institutions. Journal of General Education, 58(4), 219–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Crimmel, H. H. (1993). The Liberal Arts College and the ideal of liberal education: The case for radical reform. New York/London: Lanham.Google Scholar
  3. Kimball, B. A. (1995). Orators & philosophers: A history of the idea of liberal education. New York: The College Board.Google Scholar
  4. Kimball, B. A. (1996). A historical perspective. In N. H. Farnham & A. Yarmolinsky (Eds.), Rethinking liberal education (pp. 11–35). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Lucas, C. L. (1994). American higher education: A history. New York: St Martin’s Griffin.Google Scholar
  6. Nussbaum, M. (1997). Cultivating humanity: A classical defense of reform in liberal education. Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Nussbaum, M. (2010). Not for profit: Why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Rothblatt, S. (2003). The living arts: Comparative and historical reflections on liberal education. The academy in transition. Washington, DC: AAC&U.Google Scholar
  9. Russell, D. R. (1991). Writing in the academic disciplines 1870–1990: A curricular history. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden