Liberal Arts

Providing students a "liberal education which will fit them for leadership in any vocation they may choose."

In The Idea of a Catholic University Blessed John Henry Newman writes that "a University training is the great ordinary means to a great but ordinary end; it aims at raising the intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the national taste, at supplying true principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to popular aspiration, at giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideas of the age, at facilitating the exercise of political power, and refining the intercourse of private life.”  He is identifying the value of a liberal arts education which Carroll College embraces as “providing for the expansion of the intellectual, imaginative, and social awareness of its students” and contributing to “their full realization of a dual goal of vocation and enlightenment” (Carroll College Mission Statement).  Indeed, Bishop Carroll articulated the importance of a liberal arts education at the laying of the College’s cornerstone.  He declared that a liberal arts education will prepare students “for leadership in any vocation they may choose and at the same time so permeate them with a religious atmosphere that they will ever follow conscience as their king.”

Fundamental to a liberal arts education is the transformation of the student. While stimulating a passion for lifelong learning, it invites students to pursue truth and virtue through dialogue with history’s great thinkers, writers, and artists. Through this personal development, a liberal arts education aspires to impart to students a commitment to engage with and renew culture from the inside out.  With its emphases on critical thinking and writing, the liberal arts also cultivate the skills necessary to succeed in any endeavor.  These competencies will endure through the more than ten job changes that Carroll graduates can expect in their lifetimes.  The liberal arts also provides opportunities to encounter various academic disciplines resulting in an integrative undergraduate experience.  Finally, within the setting of Carroll College’s Catholic mission, students are challenged to explore issues such as social justice, ethics, and spirituality, and the relationships of these issues to students’ academic courses as well as their lives outside of the classroom.

Regardless of their academic majors, all students at Carroll College encounter the liberal arts through its core curriculum.  The course of instruction includes classes in theology, philosophy, fine arts, history, mathematics, literature, the natural sciences, the social sciences, and communication.  The Honors Scholars Program also provides an opportunity for students to explore the liberal arts through a Great Books curriculum.

The Wisdom of the Liberal Arts

The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks. - Albert Einstein, quoted in "Philipp Frank, Einstein: His Life and Times", p. 185.

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.  Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father. - G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

As health makes the body beautiful, so does liberal education make the mind beautiful, and the beautiful is the spice and the glory and the splendor of life. It exalts and ennobles and fills with joy the possessor and the beholder.  Intellectual culture, then, or liberal education is an end in itself.  It is worth having for its own sake. - Bishop John Carroll, "Catholic Higher Education"