As 2018 draws to a close, we would like to take a moment to reflect on what happened in European liberal arts education throughout those twelve months, and what to expect in 2019. In this post, we would summarize what happened, what we did, what to expect, and what we plan to do. Spoiler alert: the answer is “a lot” to all questions.
Liberal arts in Europe has seen a deluge of activities throughout 2019:
- Institutions and organisations are changing: New programmes created, some programmes closed, friends at GALA and ECOLAS were energized in their activities, CREATES project continues, New College of the Humanities changes ownership, Central European University is being forced out of Hungary, just to name a few signs of the potentially moving ground.
- Student movement is getting more steam: A growing community of increasingly professional actions in networking within European liberal arts space and promoting it to the outside; see especially LESC 2018 in Utrecht with a report here, LESS 2018 took place near Freiburg; LESC2019 - still seeking financial support - would happen in Berlin
- Dissemination: a special issue of Educational Philosophy and Theory with student contributions has been published, videos from LESC 2018 lectures and documents of Artes Liberales (Warsaw) Lectures were published, Dr Kathryn Telling has published an insightful piece on selling liberal arts in England, University Colleges Deans of the Netherlands conducted a first quantitative survey of university college alumni here.
Since its launch in August 17, ELAI has achieved quite a bit:
- A continuously updated website with a map of programmes and institutions self-identifying as liberal arts, an expanding database with basic organisational data, but also links to youtube channels. We also include a number of organisations and associations that promote liberal arts in Europe and an ebook on student experience. Almost four thousand people have visited the website since it was first created.
- Additionally, ELAI has published 30 blog posts, including four guest posts discussing various aspects of the developments and perceptions of liberal arts from the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Russia.
- ELAI Research Group, operating via email, has now almost a hundred people of all ages from all over the world, discussing a range of aspects regarding the philosophy, promotion, research published, and future plans for liberal arts education in Europe.
- A global network of friends, along with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Youtube.
It already seems that 2019 would be no less busy for all interested in European liberal arts. We especially look forward to:
- All the conferences and gatherings that have already been announced;
- The yet unannounced projects and ideas being cooked across the continent (fingers crossed!);
- More awareness and collaboration between the institutional and individual actors involved, which would allow to build upon existing knowledge and infrastructure and achieve more;
- Some clarity after the reshuffles in the European liberal arts scene related to ownership, demography, and Brexit;
- Amplifying individual projects to reach interested audience and those sympathising with its goals elsewhere;
- More dissemination and advocacy, to both academic and general audience, that can reduce the baffled looks when you say you offer or study ‘liberal arts’;
As for ELAI, we plan to do a number of things - and we encourage those willing to help to reach out. By the same time in 2019, our goals are to:
- Further expand the database and especially towards estimating the actual and relative size, patterns, and trends in student enrolment;
- Reach 50 blog posts, mixing information and reflection about European liberal arts scene, how it changes, and how can it be changed;
- Work on an updated list and perhaps a repository of relevant materials for those who study European liberal arts in a systematic manner;
- Publish an article summarizing our findings for ELAI database; further promote the phenomenon, research, and community at various academic and non-academic events;
- Not only inform about, but provide real synergies for various independent projects in and about European liberal arts.
Thanks for all of you who keep reading and supporting our work. We wish everyone a wonderful holidays and renewed energies for 2018. Godspeed!