Is Brandeis abandoning Liberal Arts?

The unofficial theme of today’s The Justice seems to be “Brandeis is rapidly moving away from the Liberal Arts.” The Liberal Arts Posse is being ruthlessly gutted, Justice Brandeis Semesters will give you academic credit for filing papers at summer internships, and they argue that experiential learning is a joke.

The lead editorial today was pretty forceful, especially considering the source. I don’t agree with all of it, but I think they distilled the student zeitgeist here pretty well:

However, when empty campaign slogans such as “Liberal Arts for the 21st Century” (coming at a time when the Liberal Arts Posse scholarship program has been suspended) start popping up on our campus, we have cause to worry.

A young university like Brandeis doesn’t have years of tradition to fall back on when promoting itself to prospective students. However, promoting a supposedly innovative liberal arts program when Brandeis’ academic focus has been on professional concentrations like the new Business major seems to be in bad faith.

I’d really like to hear what senior administration have to say to that. I’m not as upset as The Justice seems to be – slogans do mean something, and I’d rather have slogans that emphasize Social Justice and education than a smug “Smart from the Start”.

Look, this is all driven by the times. We all know that. No one thinks that Marty Krauss has been holed up in the bottom of Usdan, cackling and plotting the downfall of Posse. Still. There are many choices that the University could make to save money. Paring down TYP, phasing out Posse – these should be hard choices. Very hard choices. We students must make it clear how dearly we cherish and how closely we identify Brandeis with those programs.


2 thoughts on “Is Brandeis abandoning Liberal Arts?”

  1. Leigh says “a bit pretentious”. I think one could go a bit further. “The Smart Choice” and “Smart from the Start” are despised by many of the faculty and staff and I’m disappointed they haven’t vanished from our website yet.

    Experiential learning is a good thing — students should be encouraged to find big projects to tackle that aren’t feasible in a purely classroom setting, and if that means giving them credit for it, that’s ok. Exactly how to frame it in the context of a liberal arts education, and how to make sure paper filing doesn’t get you course credit, may take some refining.

  2. Very sad about Posse scholars. I’m not one, but I think it is a wonderful program.

    I don’t think the Business major is such a bad thing, since we have our own business school. I guess it comes down to our cash flow though.

    I agree with you, Sahar that “Smart from the Start” is a bit pretentious.

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