Jeremy Whitty is an Associate Professor in Operations and Quality at IE and also the Course Director for the MSc. in Pharmaceutical Medicine at Hibernia College.
So how can we bring the liberal arts to the population? If we are teachers, every time we take a class, no matter what the subject, encourage questions and let arguments develop where they will. If we are students or workers participating in a meeting, do not be afraid to challenge the status quo and constantly refine to do so and how we can build on answers to create something new. However we need to do more: I sense a yearning by many to rise above the flotsam and jetsam of tabloid culture and I believe technology is not an enemy of the liberal arts but a useful ally. Because of their ability to span the globe and being relatively inexpensive to run, online programmes using modern technology and the rigorous standards schools like IE and Hibernia College apply could be used to reinvigorate the liberal arts and so society in general. The internet will have a greater affect than the printing press, it can be left develop as a mindless repository of biased information manipulating the user and cutting her off from her birthright: the cumulative knowledge of thousands of years of enquiry, or it can be a liberating tool that will finally bring us as a species out of Plato’s cave and help us realise the promise of the Renaissance.
For those readers who are interested, I would like to start a discussion, perhaps in the facebook site for this blog at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8631611798&ref=ts ? on the ideal curriculum a hypothetical online Masters in liberal arts should have. Some of the discussion might revolve around its priorities. How can we distil the liberal arts into thirteen months? How would we encourage active scholarship and arguments? What are the most suitable technology and forums to use? How do we convince people of its importance? The questions are many but the need to equip people with the mental armour only a liberal education can furnish us with is more urgent than ever before.