The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

Liberal Arts Ideals Become Real-World Skills

Socrates claimed that education would liberate while instilling both intellectual rigor and moral structure. As defined by the Greeks, the arts aimed to cultivate a broad perspective of knowledge.

Thus, a liberal arts education is designed to strengthen intellectual skills and general knowledge, thereby freeing individuals from ignorance and prejudice, making them more effective problem-solvers and better citizens, and helping them realize their potential. Unlike a professional curriculum that is designed to provide specific skills tailored to a particular vocation, a liberal arts education provides a broad base of knowledge while developing skills of writing, speaking and analysis in a learning environment that emphasizes student-teacher interaction and personal growth. It is wonderful preparation for a wide variety of careers and for life itself.

With its broad intellectual training, a liberal arts education is valued in professional contexts of all sorts. In a world where what one needs to know is constantly changing and the problems we face are complex, a liberal arts education teaches a student how to ask the right questions and then find the best answers. As a result, it prepares them for success in the professions as well as careers in business, finance, government, education and social services.

From Breadth through Depth to Perspective

At its inception in 1950, Harpur College immortalized its guiding philosophy — "From Breadth through Depth to Perspective" — on a bronze tablet, still prominently displayed on a granite boulder at the center of campus. Harpur College remains committed to a curriculum that is informed by this ethos.

Each Harpur College student follows a unique program, yet also builds upon an innovative General Education curriculum that stresses a broad base of knowledge as well as writing, speaking and critical thinking skills. At the same time, these students select a major that provides an in-depth understanding of content and problem-solving skills in an area of specialization.

As a result, Harpur College students gain an understanding of themselves in relation to our global society and the natural and physical world, and they are challenged to exercise the essential techniques of logical thinking, efficient communication and scientific reasoning and analysis. They also gain an appreciation of different cultures and viewpoints and become effective decision makers. 

Harpur monument that reads "From Breadth Through Depth To Perspective" at the Peace Quad
The first Harpur class gift, class gift, the monument that reads "From Breadth Through Depth To Perspective" at the Peace Quad.