I just finished listening to a fascinating radio interview about the future of liberal arts education. The interview aired on National Public Radio (NPR) and featured Rebecca Chopp, the president of Swarthmore College, and Dan Weiss, the president of Haverford College. The two guests on NPR’s ‘Radio Times‘ show offer their views on a residential liberal arts education and make a handful of really excellent points about the importance of this brand of education. They address a wide range of hot topics, including the millenials thirst for that ‘first job’ post-college, the issues around rising tuition costs at leading undergraduate institutions, and the unique nature of a campus-based, residential education.
So what on earth does this have to do with business schools? Well, I think there are at least two key connections here:
1) As readers of this blog know, I am an (admittedly biased) fan of liberal arts graduates when it comes to sourcing MBA applicants – largely for the fact that they often seem to benefit a great deal from the MBA degree but also because they bring strong critical thinking skills and a creative approach to the business school classroom. In light of this, in so much as business schools are tapping liberal arts colleges for slightly less traditional candidates, those schools should likely be keeping an eye on the raging debate over the merits of a broad-based liberal arts education.
2) While most higher ed bloggers are posting content about MOOCs and other innovations in education delivery, I found this interview instructive for those leading business schools who are wondering what the future delivery model(s) will be for management education. In short, just as business schools are staring at an uncertain future where delivery models are concerned, so are liberal arts colleges – perhaps even more so, as the parents of millenials demand more and more ‘practical’ (or perhaps we should say ‘vocational’) skills. Rebecca Chopp and Dan Weiss do a wonderful job of articulating the case for the liberal arts degree, and some of their arguments will likely strike a chord with business school faculty and administration.
Here’s the description of the piece from NPR as well as a link to the show:
Over the past decade, the college landscape has changed dramatically. Student debt has skyrocketed, thousands of people are taking courses online, and pressure is mounting for college grads to have a practical skill set. Where does the residential liberal arts college fit in the midst of all these changes? In this hour of Radio Times, we’ll hear from REBECCA CHOPP, president of Swarthmore College, and DAN WEISS, president of Haverford College, editors of the new book Remaking College: Innovation and the Liberal Arts. They’ll discuss what a liberal arts education should look like in twenty-first century, the challenges many schools face, and why it matters.