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The liberal arts and sciences are the foundational core of any higher education institution, and the Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is no exception. The college is not only the largest and most diverse college at ASU but also the intellectual heart of the university.
Just as ASU is positioning itself as a model of the New American University, the college is redefining liberal arts education for the 21st century. Along with such traditional core departments as chemistry, English, physics and psychology, the college has created a number of transdisciplinary schools that facilitate the creation of new knowledge across disciplinary boundaries. Among these are the schools of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Earth and Space Exploration, Human Evolution and Social Change, International Letters and Cultures, and Social and Family Dynamics.
Each of these schools—and others like them—draws together exceptional teachers and scholars from varied fields who share a passion and curiosity about a particular issue. This blending of perspectives is critical for addressing the kinds of large, complex challenges now facing society, challenges in areas such as sustainability, social complexity, the origins of the universe, health and quality of life, and global engagement.
Learning also is being transformed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students have the opportunity to learn, live, study and grow as part of a small community within a large metropolitan university setting, with course work integrated across disciplines and related to a common theme. These learning communities are just one of the ways the college is building an educational environment that is at once both challenging and supportive.
The traditional aim of a liberal arts and sciences education—to acquire general knowledge and develop critical-thinking skills—has not changed. But to achieve success in today’s rapidly evolving world, one must be literate in a host of new arenas. The college is committed to incorporating these new literacies into the curriculum as quickly as they emerge. These include geographical, scientific, cultural, global and technological literacies, among others.
By melding the traditional and emerging literacies that are key to success in career and life, the college is adapting to a changing world just as it is preparing students to do. Our aim is to be a defining example of a liberal arts college for the 21st century.