Published On: Mon, May 21st, 2012

Liberal Arts Degree Programmes: A Dynamic Road towards Higher Studies

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Liberal arts programmes are intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills rather than occupational or professional skills. Such types of programmes are now gaining importance in the Indian higher education system which traditionally offers highly subject-centered courses.  Dr Indira J. Parikh, the Founder President of Foundation of Liberal and Management Education (FLAME) in Pune, states that a young person needs to be educated for life and not just for an occupation. Liberal arts give a broader perspective. Student need to learn science, social science, global studies, need to also engage in performing arts and need to see how there is place for everything. Students with this kind of education can are more multitasking because it offers them multi-linkages across streams. They get to understand the reasons behind a why and what. The streams like arts, science, commerce and engineering limits the ability of the students to visualise, imagine, think, innovate and be creative, she added. The undergraduate student in liberal arts is exposed to subjects in science, social science, humanities, global studies, performing arts, law, sociology, language skills and several other streams. Apart from her, many educationists believe that multi-disciplinary education prepares students for professional life and even makes them better leaders.

The rising demand for liberal arts education is also giving birth to a number of liberal education institutes namely, the International Foundation for Research and Education (IFRE), which is trying to create a system where students can take advantage of multiple faculties and multiple colleges and the Ashoka University, where a student can take a course in politics or international relations or philosophy or any other course if they are interested. The idea behind this provision is to give them exposure to a larger number of areas. The others include Apeejay Stya University, School of Liberal Arts at the Noida International University, and Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts.

According to Mr Sinha, who was the founding Dean of Indian School of Business (ISB), India as a country is in deep trouble. This is due to a gap between the demand and supply for higher education. No one is creating any capacity in humanities and liberal arts, which is a warped way of developing a society. There is an increasing need for business managers and professionals with understanding of history, politics, economics and other subjects.