A Brief Introduction to the Liberal Arts: What is It and What are the Prospects?

Educationby Ariana Smith31 July 2020

Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts are not just a subject, but rather a combination of multiple subjects. Depending on the degree course and the university’s own approach to liberal arts education, such programs can either consist of specialization in any one subject of the Liberal Arts, or it may involve completing a rounded curriculum that incorporates important aspects from various streams of liberal arts.

What Are the Four Streams of Liberal Arts?

There is a long history behind the origin and development of the liberal arts, and people’s understanding of the educational stream differs a lot due to contrasting cultural influences. However, modern liberal arts education, as is accepted internationally, can be divided into the following major categories:

  • Formal Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities

1. The Subdivisions

Each of the four main streams can be further subdivided into multiple subjects that come together to impart a rounded understanding of the stream in a student’s mind. Although the subjects can change and each stream has already seen multiple additions and overlaps throughout the years, here is a brief introduction to the various subjects that each of the four streams of liberal arts entails.

2. Formal Sciences

Any branch of science that consists of a formal language discipline and a formally categorized system falls under the formal science track. As of now, the following subjects are all considered to be part of liberal arts education’s formal science stream:

  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Logic
  • Game theory
  • Systems theory
  • Decision theory
  • Information theory
  • Theoretical computer science
  • Theoretical linguistics

3. Natural Sciences

All scientific streams which deal with understanding, explaining, describing, and predicting natural occurrences are considered to be a part of the natural science stream in liberal arts. It is extremely broad stream all on its own, with two extensive subdivisions, namely physical science and life science/biology.

Biology consists of far too many subjects to name them all here comprehensively, as it includes anything and everything to do with life, its origin, history, development evolution, conservation, and future. A few well-known examples of subjects in life science would be anatomy, astrobiology, biochemistry, biomechanics, biomedical research, biophysics, biotechnology, botany, microbiology, marine biology, and genetics, alongside numerous others.

Physical science is also far too extensive a category to include every field of its specialization here, but a broader classification is possible by dividing the fields under geoscience, physics, chemistry, and astronomy.

4. Humanities

Humanities is a stream that deals with every aspect of human society, culture, and interactions. The scope here is, once again, too broad to mention each subject individually, but in order to provide an idea regarding the kind of subjects that are included in the stream, the following subdivisions should be comprehensive:

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Philosophy
  • Classics
  • languages
  • Literature
  • Linguistics
  • Visual arts
  • Performing arts

5. Social Science

There is some debate regarding whether social science and humanities should be considered as the same stream, with broader inclusions. After all, the subjects are often overlapping or even identical, as is the definition of the two sciences. However, since it is already classified as a separate stream, let us take a look at the various broad subdivisions social science has:

  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Geography
  • Law
  • Political science
  • Economics
  • Linguistics
  • Communications
  • Education
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

6. Prospects

Just like the subdivisions and the subjects in liberal arts, the prospects of a student who is proficient in any one or multiple subjects of its four streams are also numerous. For a foundational base of education to help you get a better grasp of the scopes and opportunities in liberal arts, consider completing an online BA in Liberal Arts first, before specializing in any of its numerous fields which will open up to you. Right after completing an online BA in Liberal Arts degree, you should already be able to pursue prospective careers in fields such as public affairs, public relations, social services, information science, academics, and communications.

Once you realize how broad the scope of liberal arts is, it begins to make sense why a degree in the subject is considered to be foundational for nearly anything else that you may decide to specialize in later on.

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Ariana Smith

Ariana Smith is a freelancer content writer and enthusiastic blogger. She is a regular contributor at The Daily Notes.

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