Research on European Liberal Arts – recommended literature


There is a growing body of scholarly work available on liberal arts in Europe. However, as it stretches across academic disciplines, it is not always easy to find. For those seeking an introduction to the topic, we would like to present a first compilation of relevant literature.

At this stage, this list is not considered comprehensive. Historical and US-oriented works were consciously excluded, as they could be easily located elsewhere and fall outside of ELAI primary interest. Works included below belong to multiple academic disciplines and publishing genres, and they are only provisionally sorted.

Links lead either directly to open-access full texts on other websites (organisations or repositories), or where that was not possible, to relevant entries on the websites of other publishers.

In the spirit of ELAI, we invite you to contribute to the list in case we have missed some important sources - or if you have spotted new ones before we did ( Thank you and enjoy.


Cohen de Lara, E. & Drop, H. eds., 2017. Back to the Core: Rethinking the Core Texts in Liberal Arts & Sciences Education in Europe, Wilmington: Vernon Press.

Kirby, W.C. & van der Wende, M.C. eds., 2016. Experiences in Liberal Arts and Science Education from America, Europe, and Asia, New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

Marber, P. & Araya, D. eds., 2017. The Evolution of Liberal Arts in the Global Age, New York: Routledge.

Mehrens, P., 2006. Learning from Liberal Arts Education Ideas for the Improvement of Undergraduate Education in Sweden, Uppsala.

O’Connor, M. & Wilczek, P. eds., 2011. Collegium / College / Kolegium. College and the Academic Community in the European and American Tradition, Boston - Warszawa: Sub Lupa.

Peterson, P.M. ed., 2012. Confronting challenges to the liberal arts curriculum: perspectives of developing and transitional countries, New York: Routledge.

Rothblatt, S., 2003. The Living Arts: Comparative and Historical Reflections on Liberal Education, Washington, D. C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Tak, H. & Oomen, B. eds., 2012. De disciplines voorbij. De colleges van Hans Adriaansens, Middelburg: De Drukkery.

Tubbs, N., 2015. Philosophy and modern liberal arts education: freedom is to learn, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Voprosy Obrazovania / Educational Studies Moscow. 4, 2015. Liberal Arts and Sciences Education. Guest ed. J. Becker.

Zimmermann, B. Hrsg., 2013. Von artes liberales zu liberal arts. Freiburg: Rombach Verlag KG (Septem).



Abrahám, Samuel (2012): „Europe is now ready to import what it once had exported“. In: Tak, Herman; Oomen, Barbara (Hrsg.) De disciplines voorbij. De colleges van Hans Adriaansens. Middelburg: De Drukkery, pp. 77–84.

Adriaansens, H.P.M., 2014. The Dutch Mix: the international university college,

Axer, J., 1997. What is liberal education? Can it support both freedom and equality? Is it for everybody? Kritika a Kontext, 4, pp.116–118.

Becker, J. (2015): „Liberal Arts and Sciences Education: Responding to the Challenges of the XXIst Century“. In: Voprosy Obrazovania / Educational Studies Moscow. 4, pp. 33–61.

Becker, J., 2014 (2003). „What a Liberal Arts and Sciences Education is... and is Not“. Open Society Institute UEP Alumni Conference & Smolny College.

Claus, J., Meckel, T. & Pätz, F., 2017. The new spirit of capitalism in European Liberal Arts programs. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 1857 (June), pp.1–9.

Cooper, N., 2017. Evaluating the liberal arts model in the context of the Dutch University College. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 1857 (July), pp.1–8.

Dekker, T.J., 2013. Humboldt’s Coming Home: How Liberal Arts Education may be Central to Europe’s Economic Future. European Ideas.

Dekker, T.J., 2017. Liberal Arts in Europe. In M. A. Peters, ed. Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Springer.

Dirksen, J.T., 2017. Liberal Arts Education in Europe, A Student‘s View of, Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory (Singapore: Springer), pp. 1-6.

Dirksen, J. T. & Tubbs, N., 2017. Introduction for Special Issue of Submissions from European Liberal Education Student Conference. Educational Philosophy and Theory, (July), pp. 1-3.

Gillespie, S., 2001. Opening Minds: The International Liberal Education Movement. World Policy Journal, Winter, pp.79–89.

Haberberger, C., 2017. A return to understanding: Making liberal education valuable again. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 1857 (June), pp.1–8.

Howes, R., 2017. Liberal Arts, A Modern View. In M. A. Peters, ed. Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Singapore: Springer Singapore, pp. 1–6.

Kontowski, D., 2016. On the verge of liberal arts education: the case of MISH in Poland. Working Papers in Higher Education Studies, 2(1), pp.58–94. Available at:

Kontowski, D. & Kretz, D., 2017. Liberal Education under financial pressure: The Case of Private German Universities. In R. Deem & H. Eggins, eds. The University as a Critical Institution?. Rotterdam - Boston - Taipei: Sense Publishers.

Larsen, J.E., 2006. The role of the humanities in the bologna idea of a university: learning from the American model? Revista Española de Educación Comparada, 12, pp.309–327.

Norgaard, T. & Hajnal, P., 2014. Value Studies and Democratic Citizenship. In J. N. Reich, ed. Civic Engagement, Civic Development, and Higher Education. New Perspectives on Transformational Learning. Washington, DC: Bringing Theory to Practice, pp. 41–46.

Nørgaard, T., 2016. Friendship, Conversation & Liberal Education K. Marciniak & E. Olechowska, eds. De Amicitia. Transdisciplinary Studies in Friendship, pp.255–266.

Plumley, R., 2013: „Liberal Arts als Bildungsideal in den Vereinigten Staaten“. In: Zimmermann, Bernhard (Hrsg.) Von artes liberales zu liberal arts. Freiburg: Rombach Verlag KG (Septem), pp. 119–138.

Smith, A.J., 2017. Economic precarity, modern liberal arts and creating a resilient graduate. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 1857 (June), pp.1–8.

Tidbury, I., 2017. Is twenty-first-century liberal arts modern? Educational Philosophy and Theory, 1857 (July), pp.1–7.

van der Wende, M.C., 2011. The Emergence of Liberal Arts and Sciences Education in Europe: A Comparative Perspective. Higher Education Policy, 24, pp.233 – 253.

van der Wende, M.C., 2012. Trends towards global excellence in undergraduate education: taking the liberal arts experience into the 21st century, Berkeley.

van der Wende, M.C., 2013. An Excellence Initiative in Liberal Arts and Science Education: The Case of Amsterdam University College. In Q. Wang, Y. Cheng, & N. C. Liu, eds. Building World-Class Universities. Different Approaches to a Common Goal. Shanghai: Sense Publishers, pp. 89–102.


Altbach, P.G., 2016. The Many Traditions of Liberal Arts — and Their Global Relevance. International Higher Education, 84, pp.21–23.

Detweiler, R.A. & Axer, J., 2012. International Perspectives on Liberal Education: An Assessment in Two Parts. In: D. W. Harward, ed. Transforming Undergraduate Education. Theory that Compels and Practices that Succeed, pp.225–252.

Godwin, K.A. & Altbach, P.G., 2016. A Historical and Global Perspective on Liberal Arts Education: What Was, What Is, and What Will Be. International Journal of Chinese Education, 5, pp.5–22.

Godwin, K.A., 2015. The Counter Narrative: Critical Analysis of Liberal Education in Global Context. New Global Studies, 9(3), pp.223–244.

Godwin, K.A., 2013. The Global Emergence of Liberal Education: A Comparative and Exploratory Study. Boston College (unpublished dissertation).

Jiang, Y.G., 2014. Liberal arts education in a changing society a new perspective on Chinese higher education, Brill: Leiden and Boston.

Jung, I., Nishimura, M. & Sasao, T., 2016. Liberal arts education and colleges in East Asia: possibilities and challenges in the global age, Singapore: Springer.

Nussbaum, M.C., 2011. Democracy, education, and the liberal arts: Two Asian models. UC Davis Law Review, 44(735), pp.735–772.


  1. Davydd J. Greenwood

    Very useful resource. These developments are little known in the US and open up new lines of thinking. Along with the recent news that the Humboldt University is considering a rededication to Bildung as a principle of operation, it suggests a potential new trend in higher education.

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