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Maddy Minehart

The Liberal Arts Matter

by Maddy Minehart | Sep 28, 2017

“The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks." - Albert Einstein

When I came to Manchester, I knew it was a liberal arts college – but I didn’t know what that meant.  I knew liberal arts colleges required their students to take classes across multiple disciplines, but I wasn’t sure what the liberal arts actually were. I quickly learned, and realized the importance of a liberal arts education. Today I am so thankful to be at an institution where the liberal arts are valued.

The term “liberal arts” sounds political, but it’s not. In antiquity, the liberal arts were subjects considered necessary for a free person to know in order to take an active role in society. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were initially considered to be the core liberal arts, but literature, philosophy, and the social sciences are also referred to as liberal arts subjects.

Our liberal arts program, the Manchester CORE (which I’m sure you’re all familiar with!), is comprised of sixteen classes, plus four gym classes. The CORE is designed to allow a student to explore his or her interests while still studying under the umbrella of a liberal arts curriculum. For example, within our Integration into the World section, there are three requirements. A student must take 3 classes, one being a Global Connections, one being a Responsible Citizenship, and the last can be either of the two. To fulfill this demand, the student can choose from over 20 classes across 13 disciplines for the RC, and from more than 40 classes across 16 disciplines for the GC. These subjects include courses in Exercise Science, Economics, and even Finance. Even within an individual discipline’s requirements there are still many options. For example, in Religious Studies there are eight classes that fulfill the CORE, and in History there are eleven. These are perfect examples of how flexible our CORE truly is.

Over the course of my own liberal arts education (which has only been four full semesters), my mind has truly been opened. I’ve taken classes in sociology, education, physics, Spanish, philosophy, and astronomy – this definitely does not sound like the typical transcript of a history and religious studies major. These classes have had a profound impact on me. Sociology opened my eyes to inequities in the world I never knew existed. I’m incredibly bad at science, but physics gave me a better understanding of the universe’s mechanics. (Plus, Dr. Clark was a pretty cool professor!) My history and religion classes are my favorites, but the classes outside of my major often fascinate me just as much. Liberal arts courses are challenging, but ultimately, they’re incredibly rewarding. It’s exciting (but simultaneously terrifying) to go into a class you’re unfamiliar with, but emerge more confident and knowledgeable in a subject.

I know a liberal arts education benefits any major. But, my opinion is biased, since I mainly study both a subject within the humanities and a social science. So, I spoke to some other Manchester students to hear their opinions on the CORE:

Athletic training major Haley Farris ’20 credits MU’s CORE program with helping develop both her objective and subjective academic perspectives. In the sciences she often uses a quantitative approach, whereas in her CORE courses she has learned to draw upon her own thoughts and experiences, in addition to facts, before coming to conclusions. The Manchester CORE, Haley says, has taught her to face challenges with a much more open mind, and introduced her to various problem-solving strategies.

Mikayla Patterson ’19, an athletic training major, describes her Introduction to Religious Studies class with Dr. Eisenbise Crell as leaving the most lasting impression upon her. “I learned that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God. This is something I most likely never would have known had it not been for this class. The class really opened my eyes to different parts of religions that I never knew existed.” 

Annie Barce ’19, a biology-chemistry major, says, “As a STEM major with plans to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine, I highly value the liberal arts training I have received from Manchester. Skills in research, speaking, writing, and critical thinking continue to be cultivated in students that will prove to be immensely beneficial in every discipline as they pursue careers and professional education. This summer, I was fortunate enough to intern with a Manchester alumnus who is now a physician. When discussing our shared fondness for MU, he repeatedly stressed to me the significance of his courses outside of the natural sciences, emphasizing the practicality of courses such as sociology and economics. This has remained with me as I begin my junior year, reminding me of how advantageous a liberal arts training is in a professional realm. I am wholly grateful for an institution that has granted me the opportunity to pursue a pre-professional education while taking classes that contribute to my development as an aware and well-informed citizen.”

I am thankful to be receiving a liberal arts education at Manchester. I love the curriculum and the faculty, and I am grateful for the academic support available. I know that when I graduate I’ll be able to lead a principled, productive, and compassionate life. My liberal arts education will be one of the biggest reasons why.

Thanks so much for reading!
Maddy Minehart '19 is a history and religious studies double major. A member of the women's basketball team and heavily involved on campus, her dream job is to be a history professor.

Here is a link that describe Manchester’s CORE:

Here is a link that lists each class that fulfills a CORE requirement:

A few links explaining the importance of a liberal arts education:


Benowitz, Jean-Paul. “The Momentum Program.” Elizabethtown College. 2017. Accessed September 26, 2017.

Christ, Carol T. “Myth: A Liberal Arts Education Is Becoming Irrelevant.” American Council on Education. 2012. Accessed September 26, 2017,

Dix, Willard. “A Liberal Arts Degree Is More Important Than Ever.” Forbes. November 16, 2016. Accessed September 26, 2017, “What Does Liberal Arts Mean?” Accessed September 26, 2017,

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