Whitman’s liberal arts in focus

Hanna Ory

Credit: Bullion
Credit: Bullion

Since Whitman’s inception as a college in 1882, a liberal arts education has been central to the college’s academic philosophy. A liberal arts philosophy offers a holistic and broad approach to higher education. Whitman upholds these values by focusing on the standards of an interdisciplinary curriculum, a passion for rigorous scholarship and experiences that connect students to the real world.

Translated into curriculum, this means required participation of all students in all distribution areas, the core program, an emphasis on writing and class discussion and encouraging students to take advantage of real world experiences, especially studying abroad.

Many other liberal arts colleges, however, choose to achieve these same unifying values through different practices. Whitman itself has gone through two separate phases of overarching curriculum changes and the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Committee is currently planning a move into the third phase, which would aim to increase interdisciplinary, cross-cultural perspectives. Controversy has arisen, however, as to how these changes would be implemented and whether or not students will be involved in the decision making process.

The Pioneer examines the past, present and future of a liberal arts philosophy at Whitman, including a comparison of how the implementation of Whitman’s philosophy differs from other liberal arts colleges.