Value of 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 (1921)
Since Eckerd College opened its doors, Florida's only national private liberal arts college has earned a reputation for creating new and exciting opportunities for learning. Steeped in the liberal arts tradition of developing lifelong learners, Eckerd is committed to providing students with breadth and depth throughout the entire curriculum for all academic majors.
The liberal arts education is a uniquely American program that emphasizes knowledge across a wide spectrum, critical analysis of information, and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. This broad based approach to education provides students with specialized ability in a chosen major, while also building a foundation of skills and knowledge that can be applied among many career paths and academic pursuits. Employers value the ability to solve problems, adapt to change, work across disciplines, and collaborate with others, which are distinctive tenets of the liberal arts education.
Eckerd's approach to the liberal arts is built around close student-faculty engagement through personalized mentoring, small class size, and experiential learning. This educational philosophy is based on a deep appreciation of the value of inter-disciplinary study, practical "hands on" applications of knowledge, service learning, and cross-cultural experiences and engagement. This approach helps young adults understand the connections between disciplines within the context of a strong liberal arts education.
The relatively small size of the Eckerd student body allows numerous opportunities for close personal relationships between students and faculty. Each Eckerd student has a faculty academic adviser, known as a "Mentor," who seeks to facilitate the total growth of students and helps them to get the most out of their college years.
Because the faculty is committed to the primary importance of teaching, it has developed a reputation for excellence in the teaching of undergraduates. Many Eckerd College faculty members are engaged in primary scholarship and artistic creativity and, wherever possible, seek to involve students in these enterprises. The intention of the faculty is to provide an educational environment characterized by high expectation, personal attention, and enthusiasm for learning.
While Eckerd is committed to helping students develop competence in a specific field of study, it is equally committed to general education.
The general education program is designed to provide a foundation for lifelong learning by helping students to develop a love for learning, acquire an informed awareness of the major elements of their cultural heritage, explore various perspectives on the central concerns of human existence, assume increased responsibility for their own growth, and master the skills that are necessary to understand and deal with the rapidly changing and increasingly complex world.
The general education program is made up of the Autumn Term project, a quantitative course, foreign language, and the Western Heritage in a Global Context sequence in the first year; one course in each of four academic areas plus an environmental perspective course and a global perspective course in the second and third years; and a course in the Quest for Meaning in the senior year.
The commitment to individual development includes a commitment to helping students prepare themselves for a vocation. Through 38 formal majors and pre-professional programs, opportunities are available to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for successful careers. In addition, through independent study, students are encouraged to enhance the formal curriculum to meet their particular interests and aspirations.
The college recognizes that significant learning can occur in a variety of settings. Internships, jobs, and other off-campus learning experiences, both in this country and abroad, enable students to integrate theory and practice and help them to clarify their values and career choices. Because they are committed to a participatory educational process, faculty engage students in the learning of science, theatre, management and other disciplines by doing. The aim is to assist each student to become a self-directed, competent, humane person capable of making a significant contribution to society.
The Eckerd Edge is designed to enhance the classroom experience for all Eckerd students through resources and programs that enrich a students' learning through mentoring and hands on experiences including study abroad, internships and research, making our students competitive in the job market as well as for graduate school admission.
"In a complex, shifting world, it is essential to develop a high degree of intellectual literacy and critical-thinking skills, a sense of moral and ethical responsibility to one's community, the ability to reason clearly, to think rationally, to analyze information intelligently, to respond to people in a compassionate and fair way, to continue learning new information and concepts over a lifetime, to appreciate and gain pleasure from the beauty of the arts and literature and to use these as an inspiration and a solace when needed, to revert to our historical past for lessons that will help shape the future intelligently and avoid unnecessary mistakes, to create a sense of self-esteem that comes from personal accomplishments and challenges met with success."
- Howard Greene and Matthew Green, The Liberal Arts: What is a Liberal Arts Education and Why is it Important Today?