The European Liberal Arts Initiative (ELAI) has been launched to improve the standing of liberal arts in Europe. We consider it our task to raise the awareness of existing institutional arrangements in which liberal (arts) education already takes place, as well as to provide a platform for debating what it is and can be in the European context. Our hope is to create synergies between many formidable, original and yet diverse liberal arts initiatives populating the continent for the last three decades, and to raise awareness beyond those already involved.

The first part of the European Liberal Arts Initiative (ELAI) consists of a database of liberal arts programmes in Europe. In its current form, the database contains basic institutional data of existing programmes as well as a typology of their organisational forms. The database builds upon existing partial lists, operates on a broad definition of liberal arts*, and can be considered the first comprehensive catalogue of liberal arts initiatives in the European higher education landscape. It also provides some basic infographics and maps.

The database is publicly available online, as it allows to reach beyond the scientific community and academic audience to anyone researching related topics online. The information is usually confirmed by the institutions involved, and the database will be kept updated to reflect any future changes. We understand the database as an ongoing, open project - hence, if you have questions or comments concerning our project, feel free to get in touch with us:

* For now, we are using “Liberal Arts” and “Liberal Arts and Sciences” synonymously. Unless stated otherwise, “Liberal Arts” in our project always refers to an undergraduate degree, respectively a programme of study (B.A./ B.Sc.). We use “Liberal Education” when we talk about the overall approach to learning and the educational philosophy behind Liberal Arts programmes.
The European Liberal Arts Initiative (ELAI) has been started by Tim Hoff (University of Hamburg) and Daniel Kontowski (University of Winchester), who are both graduate students working on dissertations about European liberal (arts) education. We share a passion for liberal (arts) education and the urgent need of relevant, reliable, and to some extent critical research on those new developments. We are members of the first generation that was involved in contemporary European liberal education initiatives as students, and we are concerned about the broader appeal of those developments in the near future.

The project was triggered by us meeting at the “Liberal Arts and Sciences Education and Core Texts in the European Context Conference” in Amsterdam 2015 and later at the “1st European Liberal Education Student Conference” in Lüneburg 2016 - two conferences, which might mark a new chapter in cross-institutional conversation on liberal education in the European context. If you would like to know more about our research interests and personal trajectories, please continue to Tim’s and Daniel’s pages.
Daniel & Tim