What are the Liberal Arts?
At Wyoming Catholic College, our graduates receive a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts.
But what exactly does “Liberal Arts” mean?
When most people speak of the liberal arts today, they typically mean the subjects that do not have an immediate practical end for which one can be trained. Engineering, software design, business, accounting, marketing, nursing, and similar professional subjects are “technical” or “practical,” not liberal. That kind of education is ordered to producing skilled workers for the global economy, not necessarily to developing free people for a free society or opening the mind to larger possibilities. As a result even many technical colleges require a liberal arts component to balance skilled work with a greater vision of what it means to be human.
The liberal arts—artes liberalis in Latin—are the academic subjects and skills essential for life as a free person in a free society. Liberalis in Latin means “generous,” “free” in the ample sense of a person who thinks of doing greater good, not simply of making more money. A liberal education is an education ordered toward this generous liberty, “not the power of doing what we like,” as Lord Acton (1834-1902) put it, “but the right of being able to do what we ought.”
Traditionally there are seven liberal arts divided between the Trivium and the Quadrivium.
Grammar, logic, and rhetoric comprise the Trivium, the foundation of all education. Grammar teaches the ways language works, logic the ways thought works, and rhetoric the most effective ways to express ideas and convince others. The Quadrivium is comprised of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, the curriculum outlined by Plato in The Republic. Mastering these modes of thinking prepares the student to undertake higher subjects such as theology and philosophy.
At Wyoming Catholic College, we immerse students in the seven classical liberal arts and combine them with the study of theology, philosophy, literature, science, and the fine arts. We believe—and have seen in our graduates—that such a liberal arts education produces men and women who demonstrate good character, spiritual depth, inner joy, intellectual curiosity, flexible leadership, and other high qualities that fit them for lives of genuine freedom as well as for successful careers.
Our nation has a desperate need for liberally educated men and women. Without them, few in our day will see beyond immediate technical problems to the larger paradigms that govern the very way we conceive of reality. With them, the future can be built with hope and confidence upon the greatness of the past.