The Gregorian Institute Shield, composed of the crossed gold and silver keys of the Papal Insignia, an open book with the words 'Via Veritas Vita' ('The Way, the Truth, and the Life') written on its pages, three golden six-sided stars on a red banner, and a Germanic cross.

at BENEDICTINE COLLEGE

What Are the Liberal Arts? Benedictine’s Education

An Introduction to Liberal Education at Benedictine College

 Under the influence of St. Augustine and other church fathers, curiositas was described for centuries primarily as the vice of “vain curiosity.” In fairness, the drive to know something unimportant, or to know it superficially, really can be a roadblock to your intellectual formation, as anyone who has sat down to write a paper only to spend hours looking up the lyrics to songs on a your studying playlist or surfing Wikipedia entries knows too well. Mastering pages of information is not an education, in the sense that knowing something is not the same as understanding it, and memorizing is not the same as learning. But curiosity can also be pia curiositas — holy curiosity, sometimes called studiositas — the drive to know why, the desire, not just for more information, but for wisdom.[1] As Aristotle explained, wisdom is not just knowing things (or the desire to know things), but understanding the cause of things: What brings them about, what they consist of, what purpose they serve, what their essential characteristics might be. This desire to know the truth of things is the kind of curiosity that the ancients would have called philosophia, the love of wisdom that compels us to pose questions about the world around us and to work towards answers. In the Middle Ages, in fact, the educated curiosity of philosophy was broadly defined to include the branches of learning we call “the liberal arts.”[2]

A Liberal Arts College

Every Raven knows two things about Benedictine College: It is a “community of faith and scholarship,” and it is built upon the four pillars of being a Catholic, Benedictine, Liberal Arts, and Residential college. These familiar words come from the College’s mission statement, approved by the faculty and board in 1986, fifteen years after Benedictine was formed by the merger of a men’s college (St. Benedict’s) established by the monks of Atchison and women’s established by the nuns (Mt. St. Scholastica). That mission statement begins like this:

Benedictine College is an academic community sponsored by the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey and the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. Heir to the 1500 years of Benedictine dedication to learning, Benedictine College in its own time is ordered to the goal of wisdom lived out in responsible awareness of oneself, God and nature, family and society. Its mission as a Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts, residential college is the education of men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.[3]

The mission statement goes on to describe what it means for Benedictine to be a liberal arts college, rather than a technical college, business school, research university, or school of art and design:

As a liberal arts college, Benedictine College is dedicated to providing a liberal arts education by means of academic programs based on a core of studies in the arts and sciences. Through these programs, the college guides students to refine their capacity for the pursuit and acquisition of truth, to appreciate the major achievements in thought and culture, and to understand the principles that sound theoretical and practical judgment require. In addition, the college provides education for careers through both professional courses of study and major programs in the liberal arts and sciences. As an essential element in its educational mission, Benedictine College fosters scholarship, independent research and performance in its students and faculty as a means of participating in and contributing to the broader world of learning.

Our mission is to offer all of our students a liberal education with a strong emphasis in core classes and general education. The college’s liberal arts identity is important to our students, too: In 2017, 81% of freshmen reported that gaining a general education and appreciation of ideas was “very important” in their decision to enroll in Benedictine.

What the Liberal Arts Do and Why We Learn them from Benedictines

            Benedictine College is not exaggerating when we claim to be the heir to a 1,500-year tradition in the liberal arts: The whole collection of Western colleges and universities has its roots in the monasteries and cathedral schools of the Middle Ages. This is why, at convocation and commencement, faculty members still dress in academic robes that are related to the cuculla, the flowing robe that Benedictines wear when they pray the Liturgy of the Hours, or why academic officers are often called deans, from “decanus,” a monastic word that referred to a senior monk.[4] The liberal arts tradition dates as far back as Plato, whose Republic lists the four mathematical liberal arts, and Marcus Varro, the ancient Roman philosopher whose Nine Books of Disciplines also included the linguistic arts, but it was formalized and Christianized by Augustine, Boethius, and, in particular, the sixth-century monk Cassiodorus.[5]

By the Middle Ages, Catholic thinkers divided all possible fields of learning into three categories: the mechanical arts, which perfect objects to make them useful; the fine arts, which perfect objects to make them beautiful; and the artes liberales, or “liberal arts,” from the Latin word liber, or “free.”[6] These arts are “liberal” in a few senses. To start with, they were originally studied by those who had the freedom or leisure to study. More importantly, however, they were called “liberal” because, instead of perfecting something else to make it more useful or beautiful, the liberal arts perfect the self. A liberal education teaches the truths that prepare us to engage yet higher truths and to teach ourselves, for the rest of our lives, new skills; the liberal arts perfect us so that we are “free” to teach ourselves whatever else we will need to learn over the course of a lifetime. One of the greatest Christian educators of the Middle Ages, Hugh of St. Victor, famously describes the liberal arts like this:

Out of all the sciences… the ancients, in their studies, especially selected seven to be mastered by those who were to be educated. These seven they considered so to excel all the rest in usefulness that anyone who had been thoroughly schooled in them might afterward come to knowledge of the others by his own inquiry and effort rather than by listening to a teacher. For these, one might say, constituted the best instruments, the best rudiments, by which the way is prepared for the mind’s completed knowledge of philosophic truth.[7]

At a time when the average American changes jobs every 4.6 years, mastering those truths that enable us to teach ourselves new things is more important than ever. There is no way to predict the benefits you will receive over a lifetime from the years you spend studying the liberal arts, precisely because they do not prepare for any specific position. Instead, they are the best preparation we can offer for mastering any possible future endeavor.

But the liberal arts free us for more than a lifetime of self-directed learning: The liberal arts free us in the sense that they ennoble us. As James Halsey famously observed in a 1947 convocation speech, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and little minds discuss people.”[8] As theologian Anne Carpenter notes, the liberal arts are free (and freeing) because “they are ways into that which transcends everything we know. The arts are practiced toward an end that does not end. At no point do the liberal arts, in being known, come to a close. They may be abandoned, but they have not been abandoned because all their questions have been answered.”[9] Students who pose the oldest, the most urgent, or the greatest questions—above all, the question of God—give themselves the opportunity to rise to the occasion in providing the most meaningful answers.

Western education emerged from monasteries because monastic life both requires learning and because monasteries are natural places to pursue the kind of self-perfection that the liberal arts give. In a famous study on this topic, Jean Leclercq explains that the Rule of St. Benedict requires that the monks read books, especially the Bible — a requirement that meant that, even as the Roman empire collapsed, or even as Christianity spread into the barbarian world, the monks would need to teach themselves and others how to read, and would need to dedicate the enormous labor required to produce handwritten books on sheepskin, and would need to preserve ancient books for their formation in reading.[10] This is why people have said—a little boldly—that the medieval monasteries “saved Western civilization.”[11] So monasteries were, and are, naturally supportive of learning. But it was natural that Western education would emerge from the monasteries in another sense: Monasteries are dedicated to perfecting the self. Primarily, monasteries are “schools of love,” places dedicated to the moral virtues of discipline and charity, but that same environment also supports the slow and careful acquisition of the intellectual virtues. The very same things that help a monk grow in love—leaving home, taking vows, a simple life and a supportive community—help the scholar to grow in understanding. As the master of one of the greatest 12th-cenutry cathedral schools, Bernard of Chartres, explained, “A humble mind, eagerness to inquire, a quiet life; silent scrutiny, poverty, a foreign soil: These, for many, unlock the hidden places of learning.”

The Many Liberal Arts

Some 1,500 years ago, Cassiodorus divided the liberal arts into seven areas of study. The first three subjects, called the trivium, were the “language arts” (artes sermocinales) of grammar, logic, and rhetoric; the last four, called the quadrivium, were the quantitative arts (artes physicae) of arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy.[12] Today, this list of the liberal arts looks oddly specific—it even suggests that a true liberal arts college might only have seven majors. The medievals, though, understood the seven liberal arts much more broadly than we now do.

To study grammar, logic, and rhetoric means to study how language works, how to know when our language reflects the truth, and how to speak persuasively about the truth to others. Stratford Caldecott explains the full scope of the “language arts” with some help from the novelist and poet Dorothy Sayers:

Without a basic training in how to think, argue, and communicate, children are not ready for the study of “subjects” or equipped for the real world. We flood their environment with words, but they “do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are prey to words in their emotions, instead of being masters of them in their intellects.”[13]

Understood more broadly, the trivium would include English composition, or public speaking, or mastering new languages—the qualitative side of education which we often call the humanities.

To study arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy means to study number; it means the ability to master any field that involves numeric measurement. “Arithmetic” refers to the study of pure number or multitude, “geometry” to the extension of number across space (or magnitude), “music” refers to the study of number moving across time, and “astronomy” refers to the movement of magnitude, of the movement of numbers across both time and space. The quadrivium perfects us to move from our senses’ perceptions about physical space or time to an intellectual understanding of the world around us through the study of number.[14] The sciences — not just geometry or astronomy, but physics, chemistry, biology, or any other method of study that is significantly quantitative — are just as critical among the arts that free us to understand the world as the humanities are.

The Challenge of Being a Liberal Arts College Today

In the Middle Ages, a Catholic university education had two levels: a bachelor’s degree taught by the philosophy faculty, which consisted of an integrated core of courses in the liberal arts (trivium and quadrivium) and which centered on an established list of great books, followed by a master’s degree in some specialized, professional field (medicine, law, or theology).[15] This system of education was brought to America by the Jesuits, whose colleges initially followed the program of studies in the liberal arts mandated by St. Ignatius and which only had core subjects, without any majors at all. In fact, majors were not introduced into American undergraduate education until 1899, when Harvard’s president, Charles Eliot allowed students to devote themselves immediately to the specialized knowledge needed for their planned career, rather than waiting until the master’s degree. At our college, no electives were offered until 1918, and as recently as 1948 the first two years of college were strictly general education; students did not begin studying their majors until junior year. The creation of undergraduate majors caused a crisis in liberal arts colleges that we still grapple with today: What is the right balance between perfecting students to learn everything through the broad formation of core courses or general education requirements and allowing students to specialize in the major of their choice? Because Catholic colleges were often founded to teach nuns, brothers, and laypeople to be nurses and educators, or sometimes prepared them for work in business, finding the right balance between liberal education and applied career training is a question that they have grappled with for over a century.[16]

Liberal arts colleges help students find this balance by offering majors while still requiring significant core and set of general education requirements. In College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, Andrew Delbanco notices, however, that many people have become increasingly impatient with the core requirements and general education required for self-perfection. He explains this frustration by pointing out that, increasingly, college is seen more as an investment in career preparation than as personal formation.[17] It’s true that college is a good economic investment.  As studies have noted, those who go to college earn, over a lifetime, an average of a million dollars more than those who do not.[18] But utilitarian justifications for education do not promote a liberal arts education; focusing on the economic benefits of college leads students to see college simply as career preparation and to become impatient with the general education requirements. College is expensive and, not always realizing that liberal education aims at a well-rounded formation, students often worry about taking classes that, they think, they won’t need or wouldn’t use.  Students are not the only ones who focus primarily on specific majors to the detriment of liberal education. Many technical subjects have become increasingly complex over time, and accrediting associations require ever-more credit hours devoted to individual majors, which displaces course time dedicated to a holistic education. And so, Delbanco laments, the justification for a liberal arts education — self-enrichment — often suffers because of a lack of political and economic support.[19] But Benedictine College does not want you to be satisfied with preparation for a single job, or even to be satisfied simply with a career: through its core and general education, Benedictine College wants to equip you to seek answers to questions you long to know and to be ennobled in the process.

 Components of a Liberal Arts Education Today

An intensive two-year study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) asked a selection of liberal arts colleges to reflect on what it means to be a liberal arts college in an age in which students also have electives and choose majors.[20] The project found four distinguishing marks of a liberal approach to education:

  1. A Socratic Method. The Greek philosopher Socrates was known for teaching his students by forcing them to question what they assumed to be true and what others told them to be true, using his questions to help students see the truth themselves. The Socratic method frees students from the tyranny of authority by encouraging them to test the assertions of thinkers, of researchers, of teachers—that is, “to retain an appropriate sense of autonomy in the face of experts claiming special knowledge.”[21] This is the aspect of a liberal education that frees us from the domination of people who claim to know better: The liberally educated person asks to see the evidence and demands the right to interrogate and interpret the evidence with the guidance of his or her own power to reason well.
  2. A Grounding in Experience. A liberal education lets life, the questions that arise over the course of life, set its agenda; students seek to make sense of their place in the world, to ask “life’s ultimate questions,” and to prepare for “lifelong learning” as new questions arise. The theories that we propose to answer these questions are grounded in our experience of the world, and the education we offer grounds itself in the experience of the world around us. This aspect of liberal education presumes that the truth will set us free and that the truth is democratically available: It can be had by any who pay thoughtful attention to the world around them.
  3. A Comprehensive Scope. The comprehensive scope of a liberal education insists that no one method of inquiry is sufficient to “make critical sense of human experience,” that a broad exposure to different disciplinary methods (history, social science, natural science, mathematics, the arts, philosophy, religion) is necessary. This aspect of a liberal arts education, by familiarizing us a variety of ways of thinking, frees us for a lifetime of seeking further truths and learning new skills for ourselves
  4. An Integrative Aim. But this broad exposure is not permitted to disintegrate into a variety of autonomous disciplines and sub-disciplines; each is brought into conversation with the other, to “complete, balance, and correct” each other.[22] Indeed, authors from John Henry Newman to John Paul II have insisted that education in specialized academic disciplines, while important, remain secondary to this integrative aim.[23] This is the aspect of liberal education that frees us by lifting up our minds to consider the whole of creation in light of its Creator.

To this list, a Catholic liberal arts college in particular should add the importance of developing a sense of ethical responsibility and the ability to think through ethical questions clearly. All these things, as Delbanco writes, “cannot be derived from an exclusive study of the humanities, the natural sciences, or the social sciences, and they cannot be fully developed solely by academic study.” [24] A liberal arts college must give as an education broad enough to include all these—humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, theology—while offering formation that goes beyond the classroom itself.

The Liberal Arts at Benedictine

Our college’s curriculum — from when it was St. Benedict’s and Mt. St. Scholastica, through its merger into Benedictine College, down to today — fits these four marks of a liberal arts education quite well.

Benedictine embraces the Socratic Method by insisting that education is more about the process of learning and questioning than about memorizing assigned information. As the St. Benedict’s College catalogue reminded students in 1948, our college “holds that liberal culture consists in the ability to think, to judge, and to reason, rather than in the acquisition of knowledge,” and so our college “looks upon education as the pursuit rather than the possession of knowledge.”[25] Socratic curiosity and question-posing is obviously associated with philosophy, but it is a habit just as important in the scientific process or in researching questions in the humanities. Even in classes that may not seem like traditional “liberal arts” subjects, professors are encouraged to teach students how to arrive at answers, rather than focusing just on what they are told the answer to a problem might be.[26] And, in fact, the college has shied away from teaching subjects that wouldn’t be a good fit for Socratic teaching.[27] For example, perhaps a liberal arts college wouldn’t offer a degree in Hospitality (although many state universities do). This is not because Hospitality Studies doesn’t teach useful skills, but because those skills are very focused in their application, whereas the liberal arts aim to prepare and perfect us so that we might be able to master many such useful sets of skills for ourselves throughout the rest of our lives. It’s worth noting that over half of our seniors say their Benedictine education increased their ability to think critically “very much”—noticeably more than at our peer institutions.

Benedictine also grounds our students’ education in experience. One way we try to show our students that the theories and principles that we teach are grounded in our knowledge and experience of the world is through our science requirements, which include a mandatory laboratory course; we want students to see how the theories and principles that we teach come from our experience of the world. We also hope students see how well academic theories work in the world, and so students also take a course which studies the human person and human communities. Finally, to foster the personal encounter with and experience of beauty, students take at least two aesthetics courses.

The education we offer at Benedictine is comprehensive in scope. As Mt. St. Scholastica’s first course catalogue (1923-1924) explained, the general education requirements were selected to ensure “a good liberal education.”[28] We offer a core of classes which all students must take, as well as general education distribution requirements, which require that students choose from a variety of courses to fulfill a certain number of Foundations and a certain number of Skills and Perspectives. Taken together, these courses represent about one-third of our students’ required college coursework

Finally, Benedictine College shares the integrative aim of liberal education. As the 1948 St. Benedict’s College catalogue explained, “the liberal arts and sciences are taught in light of religion as their unifying principle”; it is the common origin of all knowledge in God that guarantees, for Catholic institutions, that all the insights of all disciplines cohere into a consistent and reasonable view of the world. Theology, arguably the most interdisciplinary discipline, therefore plays its role demonstrating the integration of knowledge, and students take at least two faith foundation courses beyond Introduction to Theology.[29] In addition to faith courses, philosophical inquiry courses give students the resources to build a coherent worldview; this is especially true “Principles of Nature,” one of the core classes, which provides a pattern for thinking about change, causality, and certainty in the natural world that acts as a framework for building knowledge in the sciences, the humanities, and theology. Students can also bring their knowledge together into a complete whole in other ways. Almost a third of Benedictine students double major. Many programs at Benedictine end with senior seminars, practicums, or capstone research projects. One-credit interdisciplinary seminars through the Discovery Program can also be opportunities for integrating the insights of various disciplines.

The Central Claim of a Liberal Arts Education

To echo the opening words of our student handbook half a century ago, you have chosen to come to Benedictine College.[30] Why choose Benedictine? Research universities produce more written scholarship. Schools of art and design may have more facilities. Business schools and technical colleges have fewer general education requirements. But you have chosen a liberal arts college. “You have chosen to go to college in order to join with your associates in the pursuit of Wisdom and Knowledge within the framework of the cultural family of Benedictine life.”[31] This pursuit of wisdom — curiosity’s drive not just to know more but to ask why — is increasingly difficult now, when the amount of things available for you to learn is already more than any one person could tackle. As Stratford Caldecott notes,

The sheer amount of information available in every discipline is far too great to be mastered by one person even in an entire lifetime. The purpose of an education is not merely to communicate information, let alone current scientific opinion, nor to train future workers and managers. It is to teach the ability to think, discriminate, speak, and write, and, along with this, the ability to perceive the inner, connecting principles, the intrinsic relations, the logoi of creation.[32]

In the midst of these cascades of information, a liberal arts college seeks to offer you a formation in wisdom, perfecting yourself with the basic skills and intellectual virtues you need to make sense of the world around you and your place in it, and to grow into someone who can learn for yourself throughout the remainder of your life. If wisdom is the knowledge of causes, then the love of wisdom is the desire not just to know, but to know why. This burning desire pushes us to pose the greatest questions, and a liberal education challenges us to imagine how we might answer them.

And again, if wisdom is knowing causes, and if the liberal arts free us by ennobling us to think about greater truths, then, as Anne Carpenter has noted, the highest wisdom is to know God as the divine cause of all things, and “the most liberal act is offering words of praise” to that great Cause — the the Lord.[33] One of our alumna, Sr. Mary Paul Ege, OSB, captured that insight in a poem she wrote for the dedication of the chapel at the Mt. St. Scholastica campus:

Here we have drunk from living years
The thought of men,
Have learned to love the sweep of brush
Of chord and pen.

Yet we have searched beyond Truth’s great
Terrestial glow
And glimpsed deep mysteries we’ve yearned
To see, to know.

These days that make us thus so wise
Here too reveal
That purest wisdom comes to us
The hours we kneel.[34]

The author is grateful for the assistance of Fr. Denis Meade, OSB, in navigating the archives of St. Benedict’s Abbey.
The stained glass windows pictured here which depict the seven classical liberal arts are located in O’Shaughnessy Hall at the University of Notre Dame.

Click to enlarge. Chart reprinted from Andrew Benjamin Salzmann, “The Soul’s Reformation and the Arts in Hugh of St. Victor,” A Companion to Medieval Christian Humanism, ed. John P. Bequette (Leiden: Brill, 2016) pp. 142-167.

Footnotes

[1] Alice Ramos, “Studiositas and Curiositas: Matters for Self-Examination.” Educational Horizons Vol. 83, No. 4 (Summer 2005) 272-281.

[2] This broader understanding of philosophy is echoed today by the fact that, in many disciplines, especially those that descend from the liberal arts, the highest degree is a Ph.D., a doctor of philosophy, which isn’t the case in other fields; in law, the highest degree is the J.D., a iuris doctor, for example, or, in medicine, the M.D., medicinae doctor.

[3] Benedictine College. “Mission Statement.” Web. (https://www.benedictine.edu/about/core/mission/index)

[4] Noel Cox, “Mediæval Education” in Academical Dress in New Zealand (Saarbrücken, DE: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, 2000).

[5] Cf. David Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

[6] Sr. Miriam Joseph, CSC. The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric. (Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2002) 4-5.

[7] –. The Didascalicon of Hugh of Saint Victor: A Medieval Guide to the Arts, Jerome Taylor, trans. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991). 3.1; pp. 86-87.

Thomas Aquinas quotes this line from Hugh in his Commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius (q. 5, a. 1).

[8] The full origin and development of this quote has been traced in online discussions (https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/11/18/great-minds/).

[9] Anne M. Carpenter, “The Resplendent Completion of the Liberal arts.” Church Life Journal. n.s. July 19, 2018. http://www.churchlife.nd.edu/2018/07/19/the-resplendent-completion-of-the-liberal-arts/#_ednref14

[10] Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture (New York: Fordham University Press, 1982). 12-19

[11] Thomas E. Woods, Jr., “How the Monks Saved Civilization” in How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2012) 25-45.

[12] For details on the Christian development of the liberal arts in the sixth century, cf. Henry Chadwick, Boethius: The Consulations of Music, Logic, Theology, and Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981) 69-173.

[13] Stratford Caldecott.  Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education. (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009) 23.

Cf. Dorothy Sayers. A Matter of Eternity: Selections from the Writings of Dorothy L. Sayers. Rosamond Kent Sprague, ed. (London & Oxford: Mowbray, 1973) 118.

[14] Caldecott, op. cit., 23-24.

[15] R. E. Houser, “A Rekindling of the Light: The Past, Present, and Future of a Catholic Core Curriculum,” Studies in Catholic Higher Education (September 2008): 1, 3-19.

[16] On the one hand, St. Benedict’s 1948 catelogue explains the school emphasizes “the liberal arts and sciences and liberal culture as distinguished from vocational and professional training” (14). On the other hand, because “the school provided general and business training, again primarily to students who were in the process of setting foot on the lower rungs of the economic ladder in their new homeland,” the college has always had a track in business education (Beckmen, 269). It added the first courses in engineering as early as the 1929-1930 school year (Schmitz, II.250). St. Benedict’s seriously considered teaching courses in aviation, but due to conflicts over where to locate runways, the program never took off.

Peter Beckman, OSB. Kansas Monks: A History of St. Benedict’s Abbey. Reprint. (Atchison, KS: Benedictine College Press, 1979).

Sylvester Schmitz, “The Development of the Curriculum of St. Benedict’s College, 1915-1945,” manuscript.

[17] Andrew Delbanco. College: What it is, and Should Be (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012) 4-5.

[18] Ibid. 25. Cf. Quentin Fottrell. “A College Degree is Worth $1 Million.” Market Watch Web (May 8, 2015).  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-college-degree-is-worth-1-million-2015-05-07.

[19] Delbanco 34.

[20] A version of this list was developed by FIPSE’s National Project IV, an in-depth study of liberal education at fourteen excellent yet quite diverse colleges directed by Zelda Gamson which ran from 1979-1981. The study itself describes a liberal arts education today as “collaborative, cumulative, contextual, and critical.” Catholic philosopher John Nichols, who participated in the FIPSE study on behalf of St. Joseph’s College of Rensselaer, Ind., recasts those adjectives as “broad, integrative, experimental, and Socratic,” which bare the same meaning but are more typical of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Zelda F. Gamson, Liberating Education (Josse Bass Higher and Adult Education, 1984) 154.

John Nichols. Liberal Education is General AND Special!: An AGLS Statement. Association for General and Liberal Studies, 2008A. Microsoft Word file: http://www.agls.org/documents/Nichols08.doc.

Cf. Richard Hendrix. “Liberal Education Varieties: Background to National Project IV,” The Forum for Liberal Education II.5 (March 1980): 1-3.

[21] Nichols, op. cit.

[22] John Henry Cardinal Newman. “Discourse Five,” The Idea of a University (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907) 99.

[23] “As health ought to precede labor of the body… so in like manner general culture of the mind is the best aid to professional and scientific study, and educated men can do what the illiterate cannot; and the man who has learned to think and to reason and to compare and to discriminate and to analyze, who has refined his taste, and formed his judgment, and sharpened his mental vision… will be placed in that state of intellect in which he can take up any one of the sciences or callings… with an ease, a grace, a versatility, and a success, to which another is a stranger… mental culture is emphatically useful” (John Henry Newman, “Discourse Seven,”  op. cit., 165-166).

Similarly: “More than ever before, our world needs intellects capable of grapsing the whole picture and of enabling knowledge to advance toward humanistic understanding and toward wisdom.”

John Paul II. “Address to Academics” (Washington D.C., Oct. 6. 1979).

[24] Delbanco, op. cit. 3-4. Also interesting is Joseph Epstein’s review of Delbanco’s book, “Who Killed the Liberal Arts?” The Weekly Standard. Web. (17 September 2012).

[25] St. Benedict’s College, College Bulletin (Atchison, KS, 1948) 13.

[26] The curriculum committee is specifically instructed to consider how new academic offerings would contribute to the liberal arts character of our school, and its form for the addition of new catalogue courses asks faculty to explain how proposed courses would contribute to our liberal arts identity.

[27] In the past, the college has chosen not to offer or to drop programs “considered a step away from the liberal arts ideal that the College sought to preserve” (Beckman, 338).

[28] At that time, the requirements were eight hours of religion, six of science, Latin, history, socioilogy, and mathematics, and twelve hours each of education, French or German or Spanish, English, philosophy, and home economics (Schuster, 167).

[29] Tara Isabella Burton. “Study Theology, Even If You Don’t Believe in God.” The Atlantic. Web. (Oct 30, 2013) https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/study-theology-even-if-you-dont-believe-in-god/280999/

[30] St. Benedict’s College. Student Handbook (Atchison, KS, 1961) 6.

[31] Ibid. 9.

[32] Caldecott, op. cit. 28.

[33] Op. cit.

[34] Schuster, 199-200.


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Andrew Salzmann

Dr. Andrew Salzmann received his Ph.D. from Boston College. Salzmann teaches at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and specializes in the Augustinian tradition. He holds a Master of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School and a BA in Theology from Notre Dame, along with a B.B.A in Marketing also from Notre Dame. He lives in Atchison with his wife, Sabitha, and their three children.