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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Liberal arts education provides breadth of knowledge

Published: February 14, 2014
Section: Opinions

When making your class schedule, one of the most prominent challenges you will often face is trying to find room to fit everything in. There are numerous classes that you want to take but unfortunately don’t have the time to squeeze it into your schedule. This is true of every major, ranging from the sciences to the humanities. The time you get as an undergraduate is fleeting. This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dabble in just about anything, everything that interests, inspires, challenges and pleases you. If you strive to make the most out of a liberal arts curriculum, upon your time of graduation you may hold one or two official majors but you will be well-versed in a plethora of other disciplines as well.

One of the main allures of having a diverse curriculum is that it allows for breadth. Instead of filling your week with classes that would all fall under the same academic umbrella, you can broaden your scope and experiment with new subjects you have never tried before. If you happen to enroll in a class that seems foreign at first, it may wind up sparking your interest to pursue more classes in the same field by the end of the semester. If you are an intended chemistry major and find that you have a penchant for history based on a class you took, it will invariably separate you from the sea of other chemistry majors. It is always refreshing to have just walked out of the realm of Ancient Greece before delving into the captivating world of evolutionary biology. The content you learn may be entirely different from class to class, but it is knowledge nonetheless. It is knowledge that heightens your perspective and thinking; as the old adage goes by Sir Francis Bacon: Knowledge is power.

One of the greatest advantages to exploring the liberal arts is that it fosters creativity. Knowledge and creativity go hand in hand in shaping one’s personality. Whether it is art or music, the opportunity to create is interminable. Even as an undergraduate, it is never too late to pick up a paintbrush or a guitar. It is never too late to master Tchaikovsky or Chopin. If you fail to seize the opportunity, though, time will slip away and it will become increasingly difficult to extrapolate all the talent you have. The ability to read music fluently is a great asset, just as is the ability to sketch picturesque landscapes with ease. Aside from the engaging world of academia there is plenty more to be explored, in all aspects of life.
There are countless practical benefits to making the most of a liberal arts education as well. The analysis required for subjects such as history and philosophy can help you in whatever you choose to do in life. Similarly, being scientifically literate is vital to understanding the world around you and making sense of the underlying intricacies of the natural world.

There is a broader lesson to be learned with each fact and detail through the way it applies to the world. This is true of a myriad of subjects, ranging from the humanities to the sciences. If the motives of historical figures are solely committed to memory without drawing parallels to the modern world, then the essence of history is lost. If past scientific revelations are not likened to those of today, then the progress humans have made eludes us. These are crucial aspects of education which culminate in giving a more profound understanding of the world. Without them, the deeper questions that face us are harder to grasp.

Brandeis boasts a perfect mix between research and the liberal arts. There aren’t many more avenues of learning beyond this. A successful education is one that is integrative and leads to original and imaginative productivity. To make the most of four years, the key is to explore all the areas possible. Once interest and passion have been sparked, they can only evolve. For the most part, it is a myth that the liberal arts leads to unemployment. The world is teeming with opportunities—you just have to seize as many of them as you can.