Global Issues in Liberal Arts: Self-Assessment Essay
Working towards a Liberal Arts degree is an exciting way to learn a lot about the world and about the variety of cultures globally. Geography is one way of learning about the world but other disciplines are just as important. Classes in philosophy, history and the social sciences teach why people behave in certain ways. Anthropology and religion help to understand why people have the rituals they have and why they worship a certain religion. Understanding different cultures helps the process of peace because the differences and the similarities between cultures can be identified. This is very important in the modern world when some people are frightened by differences in people they meet outside of their homes or when traveling. There is often fear towards anyone who worships in a different religion or wears different styles of clothing. In a lot of ways the most important positive aspect of the degree is learning how to recognize the different styles in communication as well as learning how to communicate well. Communication is the best way to overcome problems between neighbors as well as between different cultures. From my point of view having a good foundation in many subjects means that a person is well educated. In this essay I will describe some of the personal reasons I chose a Liberal Arts degree and whether or not my expectations have been met. I will also introduce aspects of the Liberal Arts degree that have been especially important to me.
Learning style A Liberal Arts degree has been a perfect fit for me. Every person has a different way of learning. My purpose in choosing a Liberal Arts degree was because it fit my style of learning. I studied the classes in the catalog for a long time before I chose to set my goal on a Liberal Arts degree. The variety of the classes showed me that there were so many things I had to learn to feel confident in the world. I learn best when I understand the total picture of an event or situation. Since Liberal Arts includes a strong foundation in a variety of important subjects I am prepared for analyzing issues from perspectives such as public policy, geography, economics, ethics and communication. The social sciences are another important aspect of understanding human behavior. Since the social sciences include so many fields to choose from it is helpful to me to learn what each of the social sciences are about. Learning the focus of psychology as compared to sociology for instance is helping me make a decision about what I want to do in the future.
Self-confidence A very personal reason Liberal Arts was the right choice for me is because even though I have a lot of different opinions I do not like to speak up around other people unless I feel really sure about what I am saying. Classes that have helped me gain confidence have taught me about how to think critically about issues. I also have learned how to step back from issues and subjects instead of taking everything personally. Learning how to think as a professional but looking at a problem or theme from different points of view has really been a great help to me.
Language It is good that each person graduating with a Liberal Arts degree must learn a second language. At least one extra language is needed because language is so linked to the culture of a people. People from all over the world immigrate and visit here so it is a great opportunity to have the chance to talk one-on-one with them. Plus it is also a good thing to know more than one language so that traveling to new places will be easier. Now that news is available from satellite dishes there is also an opportunity to hear news from different countries in the native language.
Cultural Change It is important to understand cultures from the point of view of whether a culture is moving forward (making progress) or moving backwards (regressing). A culture can even remain static which may be as bad as regression. Cultures can be evaluated by studying whether they have progressed in the way people in the culture are treated since many Liberal Arts classes are in the Humanities. Some examples how progress has been made can seem simple things like (a) building ramps into public buildings so people in wheelchairs can have easy access, (b) remembering that both boys and girls are interested in sports and adventures, or (c) teaching children how to stand up to bullies. Each of these three activities may seem obvious but these are fairly new attitudes in our culture.
Literature Learning about new authors and interesting books to read is something I have enjoyed the most so far in my classes. A book may be important because of the way it is written but I have also learned about how historical figures thought about problems. The attitudes that famous people have can be really surprising. An example is learning that some authors of the Declaration of Independence were slaveholders while at the same time ideas from the American Indians were introduced into the Declaration of Independence. These types of insights give a student a lot to think about. Literature has been the best way I have learned about other cultures even though I have mostly read fictional account. Fiction is a way to understand the historical setting and the emotions of people and that is why it is so important.
Interdisciplinary Studies No one can deny that the world is becoming smaller and smaller as Internet and Information Technologies become more advanced. The challenge is that as the world gets smaller it becomes clear that the world is a very complex place. Many problems exist in world today that must be solved across borders between people with different languages. For example the problem of global warming is not an issue that can be solved by only one country or by only one type of expert. Today’s problems need experts from different disciplines to solve. Not only that the problems need to be solved with input from the individuals and communities experiencing the problems. Having a background in different philosophies, cultures and behaviors seems invaluable to me.
A Liberal Arts degree is just the beginning of learning for me. I have achieved a good basic foundation for future studies. Interestingly working on a Liberal Arts degree has taught me how to learn. For example I know how to choose better references for particular subjects that interest me. Two areas of interest for me are the Social Sciences and Policy Issues. Because social science is the study of society and human behavior in society, I think that it is a good place to begin learning about effective policy making. Problems are between people who are different in some way whether it is cultural, philosophical or political. In order to solve problems in today’s world a person needs to be able to understand a lot about not only how people behave but also how the world works.
In conclusion I would like to share probably the most important reason I think a Liberal Arts degree is so important. Growing up I was taught that growing up in a democracy is a great advantage. I asked for advice from a lot of people that I respect when I was in high school because I needed help in deciding on what future goals to set. A lot of people asked me questions about my interests and what topics were important to me. By analyzing what was really important to me I began to understand that the Humanities are fundamental to my future. So I chose a Liberal Arts degree and I still feel it was the best decision. Whatever I end up doing as a job I will be able to do it professionally and confidently because of the knowledge I have gained. I know I will be able to find job opportunities in many types of organizations. A Liberal Arts degree makes it possible for me to work in a business, the government, the United Nations or in a non-governmental organization. I am looking forward to the future because I have a lot of choices ahead of me.