Liberal arts courses vital to society

alma bustamante | The Ranger Photography Instructor Brent Cavanaugh leads a spring class in Parcells Hall on the Washington Street Campus. Enrollment is down this semester by 10.7 percent.

Why are the liberal arts important in a college education? As the Roman poet Ovid said, “Note too that a faithful study of the liberal arts humanizes character and permits it not to be cruel.” The study of humanities and liberal arts help us to be more well-rounded people by giving us knowledge of other cultures and of our past.

Some people have advocated for the removal of liberal arts classes from the required curriculum of public universities, or at least for their being made optional. The reasoning behind this is the opinion that liberal arts courses are simply extraneous classes that unnecessarily bog down the education process and make it take longer to graduate.

After all, if you’re an engineering major, why should you have to study history, art, or a foreign language? Although one may be tempted to think this way, it is important to remember that the goal of education is not simply to train someone for a specific field and then send them off to work in it.

Machines are programmed for specific tasks, and then execute those tasks. What separates us from machines? It is our individual thought,use of language, and our appreciation of art and history. These are the things that make us human. If anything, more liberal arts should be required.

So when you take your required liberal arts courses, don’t think of them simply as the courses you have take in order for the college to give you your degree. Instead, think of them as an opportunity to advance yourself and become a better citizen and person.

History gives you a better understanding of how the world came to be the way it is today. The study of languages, in addition to being fascinating in and of itself, allows you to be able to communicate more effectively and with more people. Art is not only for those who would consider themselves artists; it is an expression of human creativity and emotion that everyone should be able to appreciate fully.

Amarillo College strongly supports the liberal arts and humanities. The Amarillo Museum of Art is located on campus, as well as the Museum of Natural History. Just last week AC hosted the Creative Minds Humanities Lecture Series for the benefit of students and the general community. Education in the liberal arts is vital if we are to thrive as a society.

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