F&M Stories

Liberal Arts is the Future of Work

Liberal arts colleges and educational leaders from around the country will gather at Franklin & Marshall College June 1-3 for a conference to imagine the workplace of tomorrow.

"The Liberal Arts and the Future of Work" is expected to focus on the changing nature of education and work and the central role the liberal arts can play in the workplace now emerging.

"We've reached an inflection point where there is a need for liberal arts colleges to become more forward-looking, to envision and create the knowledge needed for the future," said Professor of Legal Studies Jeffrey Nesteruk, deputy provost for new academic initiatives.

Leading the conference, Nesteruk said this does not mean abandoning the liberal arts' invaluable tradition of preserving and transmitting the wisdom of the past, but rather it means folding that wisdom into new curricular programs.

"Because today's students will experience a work world significantly different from that of even a decade ago, liberal arts colleges must strive to imagine tomorrow," he said.

Among the institutions that will be represented at the conference are the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, Babson College, Bentley University, Bryn Mawr College, Bucknell University, Carleton College, College of the Holy Cross, Colorado College, Connecticut College, DePauw University, Gettysburg College, Lawrence University, Mount Holyoke College, New York University's Stern School of Business, Oberlin College, Prescott College, Swarthmore College, Washington and Lee University and Wesleyan University.

A panel of college presidents will open the convening.

"It is in addressing this new environment that the classic virtues of liberal arts colleges display their contemporary currency," Nesteruk said. "Liberal arts colleges have always been integral to strength and cohesion in our flourishing years. In disconcerting times, we may discover their value is even greater."

The Agenda

The conference will explore three overarching themes: Inspiring Colleges, Engaging Students, and Transforming Work. Multiple, individual sessions will pose questions related to each theme.

Inspiring Colleges includes "Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the Liberal Arts" with the question "What distinctively human capacities and traits should liberal arts colleges aim to develop?"

Engaging Students highlights a session on "Bringing Ideals to Practice," asking "How can we help students bring to their jobs and careers the aspirations that liberal learning fosters in them?"

Transforming Work probes questions that range from "How do we prepare students for the unpredictable?" to "How can a liberal education enliven and elevate work?"

"Because today’s students will experience a work world significantly different from that of even a decade ago, liberal arts colleges must strive to imagine tomorrow.”

– Professor Jeffery Nesteruk
 

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