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Liberal arts education is crucial to Georgetown’s identity

A woman without regrets



Perhaps it goes without saying, but it is in the opinion of this writer that Georgetown College’s foundation as a liberal arts institution is a key aspect of the college’s overall identity. With the college being forced to make serious budget cuts, rumors have abounded concerning what aspects of Georgetown life these cuts will affect. While some students worry that their professors may lose their positions, there has even been talk that entire departments may be cut. While nothing is set in stone, Tigers must wait for the next few months to pass before we know how these budget cuts will affect the faculty members and departments we’ve learned to cherish.

Although the immense amount of general education requirements can at times feel like a thorn in one’s side, the benefits of these courses certainly outweigh the negatives. While many students come into college unsure of what career path they want to pursue, other students feel fairly confident in what they will major in prior to beginning their undergraduate degree. Either way, because Georgetown requires students to take classes outside of one’s intended major, this practice exposes us to a plethora of fields that we otherwise may have not considered.

Anna Fiechter claims that Georgetown’s liberal arts curriculum is the main reason she decided to major in biology. “Before I came to Georgetown, I was set on being an English teacher, and I hated science. I was so mad I had to take Biology, because I would never use it. So, I signed up first semester freshmen year to get it over with. I started my class freshmen year and realized my biology class was my favorite. So weird! Now, I’m an environmental science major.”  Anna is a prime example of a student who benefited greatly from GC’s liberal arts curriculum. “Without being at a liberal arts school with general education requirements, I never would have found a major that gives me the knowledge to act and influence others to act to improve the Earth.”

Melissa McLevain, a psychology and English double major, claims that Georgetown’s liberal arts identity is one of the main reasons she was initially interested in checking out Georgetown as a prospective student. “I’m thankful for my liberal arts education because it challenges me to think and pursue knowledge outside of my comfort zone.” Melissa also went on to comment how grateful she is to be taught by talented professors both inside and outside of her fields of study.
A well-respected faculty member of GC, Dr. Sands-Wise, is an avid proponent of the liberal arts education. He argues that studying in this fashion provides students with something even more valuable than monetary gain.  Dr. Sands-Wise says, “The liberal arts, on the other hand, are based around the idea that what may be most truly valuable, and even useful, in your life are not ideas that you can patent and sell and that make you more effective, but an understanding of your life, and the purpose of your life as a whole.  It may well be the case that a liberal arts education will allow you to get a better job and make more money (typically, this is true), but that would frankly be a side benefit.”

This professor of philosophy says, “I do not teach so that you can make more money; I teach so that you can think about whether making more money is how you want to live your life.  This is why you have to take social science courses that explore the basis of human thought and human society, and also natural science courses that explore the scientific basis of a human being; why you must take language courses that show you the world from another perspective and fine arts courses that teach you to see perspectives in the visual world…” Dr. Sands-Wise went on to say that there is value in each and every course one takes as an undergraduate, despite whether or not the course corresponds with your major or intended career path.

Finally, Dr. Sands-Wise left this writer with a few words of wisdom. “Do not do the liberal arts to make money, do the liberal arts to become a more informed, more free, more engaged and, ultimately, better person.”
It seems obvious that the importance of maintaining Georgetown College’s liberal arts curriculum is viewed as an important necessity for students and faculty alike. This writer sincerely hopes that regardless of the decisions that may change GC over the next few years, our identity as a liberal arts college remains unaltered.

And if you don’t know, now you know, Tigas.