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    The Liberating Arts

    Why We Need Liberal Arts Education

    4.2 Stars on Goodreads Read Reviews

    A new generation of teachers envisions a liberal arts education that is good for everyone.

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    About The Book

    Why would anyone study the liberal arts? It’s no secret that the liberal arts have fallen out of favor and are struggling to prove their relevance. The cost of college pushes students to majors and degrees with more obvious career outcomes.

    A new cohort of educators isn’t taking this lying down. They realize they need to reimagine and rearticulate what a liberal arts education is for, and what it might look like in today’s world. In this book, they make an honest reckoning with the history and current state of the liberal arts.

    You may have heard – or asked – some of these questions yourself:

    • Aren’t the liberal arts a waste of time? How will reading old books and discussing abstract ideas help us feed the hungry, liberate the oppressed and reverse climate change? Actually, we first need to understand what we mean by truth, the good life, and justice.
    • Aren’t the liberal arts racist? The “great books” are mostly by privileged dead white males. Despite these objections, for centuries the liberal arts have been a resource for those working for a better world. Here’s how we can benefit from ancient voices while expanding the conversation.
    • Aren’t the liberal arts liberal? Aren’t humanities professors mostly progressive ideologues who indoctrinate students? In fact, the liberal arts are an age-old tradition of moral formation, teaching people to think for themselves and learn from other perspectives.
    • Aren’t the liberal arts elitist? Hasn’t humanities education too often excluded poor people and minorities? While that has sometime been the case, these educators map out well-proven ways to include people of all social and educational backgrounds.
    • Aren’t the liberal arts a bad career investment? I really just want to get a well-paying job and not end up as an overeducated barista. The numbers – and the people hiring – tell a different story.

    In this book, educators mount a vigorous defense of the humanist tradition, but also chart a path forward, building on their tradition’s strengths and addressing its failures. In each chapter, dispatches from innovators describe concrete ways this is being put into practice, showing that the liberal arts are not only viable today, but vital to our future.

    Contributors include Emily Auerbach, Nathan Beacom, Jeffrey Bilbro, Joseph Clair, Margarita Mooney Clayton, Lydia Dugdale, Brad East, Don Eben, Becky L. Eggimann, Rachel Griffis, David Henreckson, Zena Hitz, David Hsu, L. Gregory Jones, Brandon McCoy, Peter Mommsen, Angel Adams Parham, Steve Prince, John Mark Reynolds, Erin Shaw, Anne Snyder, Sean Sword, Noah Toly, Jonathan Tran, and Jessica Hooten Wilson.

    View Table of Contents

    About The Authors

    Jeffrey Bilbro

    Jeffrey Bilbro is the editor-in-chief at Front Porch Republic and the author of several books. Read More

    Jessica Hooten Wilson

    Jessica Hooten Wilson (PhD, Baylor University) is the inaugural Seaver College Scholar of Liberal Arts at Pepperdine University and a senior fellow at Trinity Forum, and is also the author of several books. Read More

    David Henreckson

    David Henreckson is an assistant professor and Director of the Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith and Learning at Whitworth University. He is author of The Immortal Commonwealth, a recipient of the Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award. Read More

    Emily Auerbach

    Emily Auerbach is the executive director and co-founder of the Odyssey Project and a professor of English at University of Wisconsin–Madison. She co-hosts Wisconsin Public Radio's University of the Air. Read More

    Nathan Beacom

    Nathan Beacom is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. His work on agriculture and the environment and other subjects has appeared in Civil Eats, America Magazine, Front Porch Republic, and elsewhere. Read More

    Joseph Clair

    Joseph Clair is an associate professor of ethics and the executive dean of the Cultural Enterprise at George Fox University. He is the author or several books including most recently, Reading Augustine: On Education, Formation, Citizenship and the Lost Purpose of Learning. Read More

    Margarita Mooney Clayton

    Margarita Mooney Clayton is the founder and executive director of Scala Foundation, an associate professor of practical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. Read More

    Lydia S. Dugdale

    Lydia S. Dugdale is a physician and ethicist at Columbia University in New York City, where she also directs the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Read More

    Brad East

    Brad East is an associate professor of theology at Abilene Christian University. He is the author or editor of four books, most recently The Church: A Guide to the People of God. Read More

    Don Eben

    Don Eben is the owner and CEO of Core Network Strategies, a telecommunications contracting corporation. An avid supporter of classical education, serves on the board of Sager Classical Academy in Arkansas. Read More

    Becky L Eggimann

    Becky Eggimann is a professor of chemistry and Dean of Natural Sciences at Wheaton College. As a computational scientist, she uses molecular simulations to study complex aqueous interfaces. Her work has been published in a variety of field-specific journals. Read More

    Rachel B Griffis

    Rachel B. Griffis is an associate professor of English at Spring Arbor University. She has written about American literature and Christian education in Christianity and Literature, Christian Scholar's Review, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, Literature and Theology, Studies in American Indian Literatures, and elsewhere. Read More

    Zena Hitz

    Zena Hitz is a tutor at St. John’s College and the author of Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life (2020). Read More

    David Hsu

    David Hsu is an associate professor and engineering program director at Wheaton College. He has worked in biomedical and telecom research and is now a mechanical engineering design consultant and researcher in the area of computational materials science. Read More

    L. Gregory Jones

    L. Gregory Jones is currently the president of Belmont University. He was previously executive vice president and provost of Baylor University and dean of Duke Divinity School. He is the author of many books including Navigating the Future: Traditioned Innovation for Wilder Seas. Read More

    Brandon McCoy

    Brandon McCoy is a student at Harvard Law School. He has written several education policy issue briefs and opinion editorials on classical education, school choice, and civics. Read More

    Peter Mommsen

    Peter Mommsen is editor of Plough Quarterly magazine. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, Wilma, and their three children. Read More

    Angel Adams Parham

    Angel Adams Parham is the executive director of Nyansa Classical Community. She is an associate professor of sociology and a senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Her books include The Black Intellectual Tradition: Reading Freedom in Classical Literature. Read More

    Steve A. Prince

    Steve A. Prince is a mixed media artist, master printmaker, lecturer, educator, and art evangelist. He is currently Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Muscarelle Museum at William and Mary University. Read More

    John Mark Reynolds

    John Mark Reynolds is the president of The Saint Constantine School, a kindergarten through college program. Previously he was provost at Houston Baptist University and the founder of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University. His books include When Athens Met Jerusalem: An Introduction to Classical and Christian Thought. Read More

    Erin Shaw

    Erin Shaw is a Chickasaw-Choctaw artist. She studied fine arts at Baylor University and University of Oklahoma, and is now an assistant professor of visual arts at John Brown University. Read More

    Sean Sword

    Sean Sword is a student majoring in criminology at Calvin University. A juvenile offender, he served twenty-seven years in prison and began his college studies at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan, through the Calvin Prison Initiative. Read More

    Anne Snyder

    Anne Snyder is the editor-in-chief of Comment and the founder of Breaking Ground, a collaboration of institutions with a Christian humanist approach. She hosts The Whole Person Revolution podcast and is the author of The Fabric of Character: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Renewing our Social and Moral Landscape. Read More

    Noah Toly

    Noah Toly is Provost at Calvin University. He is the author or editor of several books, most recently The Gardeners’ Dirty Hands: Environmental Politics and Christian Ethics, which received the Aldersgate Prize. Read More

    Jonathan Tran

    Jonathan Tran is an associate professor of theology at Baylor University and an associate dean in its Honors College. He is the author of Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism and coeditor of the Oxford University Press book series Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion. Read More


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    Table of Contents

    1. What are the Liberating Arts?
    2. Aren't the Liberal Arts a Waste of Time?
    3. Aren’t the Liberal Arts Elitist?
    4. Aren’t the Liberal Arts Liberal?
    5. Aren’t the Liberal Arts Racist?
    1. Aren’t the Liberal Arts Outdated?
    2. Aren’t the Liberal Arts Irrelevant?
    3. Aren’t the Liberal Arts Unprofitable?
    4. Aren’t the Liberal Arts a Luxury?
    5. Aren’t the Liberal Arts Just for Smart People?

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