Why Study the Liberal Arts?

There is nothing niche about the study of what it is to be human. And research shows that employers really value the sorts of skills that a humanities degree hones. These include shaping a logical argument and then defending it when your essay is dismantled during class; resolving problems creatively; and writing, thinking and communicating clearly. All are infinitely transferable accomplishments, whether or not you think Socrates has any bearing in the boardroom. David Willets, Minister of State for Universities and Science, August 2013

John Henry Newman wrote in his book Idea of a University, that by participating in a liberal arts education, 'a habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom'. At Benedictus we aim at these high goals.

A liberal arts education has proven itself over the centuries as an excellent training ground for success in later life. Developing the power for both inward contemplation and public persuasion and debate, it has produced some of the greatest philosophers, writers and artists of the past as well as some of the most influential figures in society.

Its emphasis on numerical as well as linguistic and analytical skills is a solid foundation for future achievement in any arena – from law or politics, teaching or research to the media and creative arts; from public service, business and finance to charitable work, medicine or the religious life.

Benedictus draws inspiration from the successful liberal arts colleges in America, which have become known for their rigorous curricula and high standard of education. Recent high-achieving liberal arts graduates in the public sphere include Kofi Annan and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Developing skills for future employment

Today, after completing their university education, young people enter an employment market that favours adaptability, lifelong learning and original thought. They can expect to have a number of different jobs over their lifetimes and need to be entrepreneurial in their approach to make the most of their career prospects.

This setting is well served by the richness and breadth of a liberal arts education, which offers an all-round preparation for intelligent engagement with every subject. The power of the liberal arts within the 21st century economy is nowhere more evident than in the comment by Apple’s founder and CEO Steve Jobs that the secret of his company’s astounding success lay in ‘technology married with liberal arts’.


Educating the whole person

The liberal arts are the foundation of an education for freedom and leadership in all walks of life, both personal as well as professional. In its celebration of wisdom, truth and beauty it aims to encourage individuals to be alive to their responsibilities as individuals and within their communities. Liberal arts education offers more than adaptability and improved chances for professional success; it is concerned with the education of the whole person and emphasises the attainment of virtue as a primary goal.

See what others have to say about the liberal arts on our Resources page.