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President Oxtoby Writes Article on the Role of Arts in Liberal Education

An image from a rehearsal with the Martha Graham Dance Company

Students rehearse with the Martha Graham Dance Company in 2011. President Oxtoby mentions this arts experience in his "Liberal Education" article.

In the spring 2012 issue of Liberal Education, the magazine of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, President David Oxtoby makes the case for the role of the arts in liberal education. 

"Amid all the current discussion of the value of a liberal education, and the pressure on colleges and universities to articulate benefits and career outcomes, the role of the arts is particularly important," writes Oxtoby. "If... we regard fostering creativity as one of the core values of education, the arts disciplines can and must play a central role. We need to understand and articulate both the disciplinary cohesion of programs in the arts and their interdisciplinary value."

In the article, Oxtoby discusses the place of the creative and performing arts in education, and outlines "four strong arguments for placing these fields at the heart of our institutions, rather than our margins," including impact on society, helping students push their boundaries, increasing "experiential education" outside of the sciences, and teaching creativity as "success in the future will involve making new connections and coming up with new ideas, not simply using one's training in a well-defined career."

He concludes, "Balance between the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and the teaching of skills from critical reasoning to writing to numeracy might seem to be more than enough to fill a required program of study. Making room within the curriculum for courses teaching the discipline and refinement of technique that allow students to express themselves creatively can pay off in more broadly educated students who will build on that creativity in their future lives and careers."

You may read the entire article online here.