Humanities, Classics and Liberal Arts

By Tansu Acik.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Modern secondary education and higher education in the West have been heavily influenced by the work of Wilhelm von Humboldt in the first decades of 19th century in Berlin. We owe him many key concepts: PhD based on original research, academic autonomy, innovative scholarship, especially his conception of Bildung or cultivation . He believed that universities should foster Bildung, or cultivation, meaning broad intellectual development and humanistic culture, in students. By the end of the 19th century every state had, more or less aligned its educational system with the Prussian one. Many universities emphasized a version of the Humboldtian Bildung and called it liberal education in English and culture générale in French. That was the first transformation in the university system. A second followed between the world wars in favour of technical education. The last transformation is the one we had been experiencing since the last decade of 20th century . Since World War II the dominant idea shaping the university is that it should create new learning, new skills in all fields and especially science and medicine, help the economy create wealth, and support a knowledge-driven society. While not ignored, humanistic research and teaching are less central. In fact, liberal education loses ground, but it also evolves and becomes more sophisticated. Liberal arts designates a college or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum.
Liberal education, which can be termed as humanistic education as well, has its roots in Greco-Roman antiquity. Inside the texture of this tradition two threads were identified. Broadly speaking, one can be called the civic ideal, the responsible participation of citizens in the public life; the other can be called the philosophical ideal, which has got to do with perfection, ethics, and the shaping of personal values; both persist today and they are especially relevant in the pluralist democratic society. Defending liberal education against the excesses of professionalism and against the utilitarian academic bureaucracy is a priority.

Keywords: Humanities, Classics, Liberal Arts, University, Citizenship

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.145-150. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.176MB).

Dr. Tansu Acik

Assoc. Prof. Dr., Faculty of Letters, (AÜ DTCF) Greek Language and Literature, University of Ankara, Ankara, Ankara, Turkey

Ph.D. in Greek Language and Literature, ‘The Functions of Choruses in the Structure of Tragedy ‘Ankara University 1997. M.A. ‘The Birth of Rhetorical Theory in Aristoteles ‘in Greek Language and Literature, Ankara University 1989. 1989-1990 Holder of Greek Goverment scholarship, “full-time resident student in British School of Archeology in Athens. B.A. in Latin Language and Literature, Ankara University 1987. Fulbright senior scholar grant 2008-2009, UC Berkeley Department of Classics, visiting scholar.


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