Dean of Admission Tracy Manier reflects on how liberal arts universities are uniquely positioned to deliver us from the disquieting cycle of national and global events, and prepare students for a challenging and changing world. And she offers research findings in support of her view.
This school year has been a time of unsettling events. White supremacists and neo-Nazis invaded a fellow university in Charlottesville. Two hurricanes pummeled the United States and Caribbean. Unresolved policies regarding the DACA program have given rise to uncertainty and fear. Mass shootings have defiled the security of our schools, churches, workplaces and public spaces. And this is to say nothing of alarming national and world reports chorusing in the background. By the time you read this, the news cycle will have changed many times, possibly in more remarkable and disorienting ways.
Facing the World’s Challenges
So what is to be done to confront the modern and age-old conundrums of society? It will take knowledge of our history, as well as a critical understanding of culture, economics, politics, religion and science. We need an empathy for and awareness of the human condition, honed through the study of art, language, literature and philosophy. We need educational experiences that teach students, in every field of study, to solve problems with people whose views are different from their own — an outcome 96% of employers agree on.*
Creating a Flight Vest for the Future
Consider what a liberal arts education can do: develop critical thinkers, strong communicators and collaborators, ethical leaders and thoughtful problem-solvers. It expands creativity and cultural nimbleness. Its application is vast and recyclable — not a finite skillset applied to a narrow job or profession, but a way of being — lifelong — as a successful professional, effective parent, democratic voter, compassionate neighbor and global citizen. It is a flight vest for a future where unprecedented things, both good and bad, will happen.
Preparing Students with Skills Employers Want
Research shows that students will likely change jobs seven times over their career. A liberal arts education provides the boundary-crossing knowledge and skills that carry them through. In the workplace, we see overwhelming demand for the outcomes intrinsic to the liberal arts. Recent survey results from employers across a range of industries support this finding. Here are a few:
Creative and Innovative Thinking
65% of employers rate the ability to innovate and be creative in the workplace as a very important outcome of college learning.*
Applied Skills Beyond a Major
91% of employers agree that the ability to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems is more important than a candidate’s major.*
Broad Knowledge in the Liberal Arts and Sciences
78% of employers agree that regardless of their major, all students should acquire thorough knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.*
Both Specific and Broad Knowledge and Skills
3 in 5 employers agree that in order to achieve long-term career success, it takes both field-specific and broad-range knowledge and skills.*
Delivering Liberal Arts with a Bonus
At St. Edward’s, we deliver education in this grand liberal arts tradition with a bonus. Our Holy Cross heritage serves as light and compass, grounding us in ethics and guiding our understanding of this challenging world. We do so in a sustaining, generous community of scholars and mentors, including a Career and Professional Development team that serves our students and alumni for a lifetime. In addition, the greater Austin eco-system becomes our expansive professional and entrepreneurial playground. This is the ideal setting to prepare students for their futures, professionally and personally. Right now, there is nothing more important or critical to the future of our world.
* Source: 2015 Hart Research Associates survey of employers conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities