New research on global liberal arts education

New research on global liberal arts education

European liberal arts can be viewed as a component of a global upsurge in liberal arts education. There has already been a sizeable scholarly literature on the topic (see a section in ELAI Recommended Literature), but since the list has been published, at least two important contributions have been published.

The first is an article “Global liberal education: Theorizing emergence and variability” by Mary-Ellen Boyle from Clark University (US). The author has previously published a review of four collected volumes on global liberal education and was appointed to Fulbright Specialist Program Roster, 2015-2020, in which role she advised on a liberal arts developments in Vietnam. Her current article, based on her presentation at CIES 2016 conference, presents a theoretical answer to the double question: why liberal education emerged globally and why in so many forms? Boyle rejects previous explanations related to universal pressures and proposes an alternative explanation mixing isomorphism with complexity theory.

Two of the editors of the 2016 volume on liberal arts in East Asia, Mikiko Nishimura and Toshiaki Sasao from International Christian University (Japan) returned with a new volume entitled “Doing Liberal Arts Education” (Springer). This publication consists of case studies from a global pool of liberal arts developments and was conceived as a practical contribution to the knowledge on the ways to deliver liberal education outside the US. Europe is represented by a case study of Amsterdam University College; chapter 2, comparing core curricula worldwide, additionally discusses Bard College Berlin. The final chapter offers a short cross-case discussion and a list of recommendations arising from diverse case studies.

In April 2019, Fulbright University Vietnam held a conference on the New Approaches to University Education in Asia. Volker Balli, Academic Director of Studium Individuale at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg and head of CREATES project, was among the speakers. The report from the conference is now available here.

The Asian Conference on the Liberal Arts (ACLA) will take place between November 08–10 2019 at Lingnan University in Hong Kong under the theme “Uncertain Futures: The Role of Liberal Arts Education”. A range of presentation formats are accepted; scholarships are available for early career scholars to offset registration fees, the costs of travel and accommodation. Friends of ELAI can enjoy a further 10% discount on the registration fee: for details, please email us at info (at) The deadline for submitting the abstracts is August 26, 2019.

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