Why is Liberal Education Important in the 21st Century?


February 6, 2020 :: Shelly Wismath
Moderated by Tad Mitsui

Liberal Education is rooted in an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest.

The philosophy of Liberal Education traces back to the Classical Era of the ancient Greeks and Romans, who developed a logical and systematic approach to looking at the world around us, and an education system to produce informed leaders who would engage in the running of their city-states. Thinkers like Thucydides and Plato discussed politics, forms of government, and civic engagement.

These ideas came to life again with the flourishing of the scientific approach in the late 1600s, and on into The Enlightenment or Age of Reason, as thinkers explored politics, economics, government and social systems. Questions about the relationship of a liberal education to citizenship, are questions with a long history in the Western philosophical tradition.

The speaker will argue that the pillars of our Liberal Education model - breadth and integration of knowledge, critical thinking skills of evidence-based reasoning, and the application of that breadth and skill in civic engagement - capture the essence of our teaching and learning, and indeed of our research; it is a model of all that a university can and should be, for our students and our citizens.

Speaker: Dr. Shelly Wismath

Shelly Wismath is a Professor of Mathematics, and taught for many years in the Math & Computer Science Department at the University of Lethbridge. Her research in abstract general algebra resulted in three books and over sixty research papers published. In 2009 she moved to the Liberal Education Program, where she teaches courses on quantitative and problem solving skills designed for non-math, non-science majors. In the past few years she has published research on the teaching and learning of critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Dr. Wismath was awarded the University of Lethbridge’s Distinguished Teaching Award, held the inaugural Board of Governors’ Teaching Chair, and in 2017 was named as a 3M National Teaching Fellow. In October 2017 she was appointed as the first Dean of the University’s new School of Liberal Education.

Moderator: Tad Mitsui

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020
Time: Doors open 11:30 am, presentation 12 noon, buffet lunch 12:30 pm, Q&A 1 – 1:30 pm
Location: Royal Canadian Legion (please enter at north door) 324 Mayor Magrath Dr. S. Lethbridge
Cost: $14 buffet lunch with dessert/coffee/tea/juice or $2 coffee/tea/juice. RSVP not required


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