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As Sam Schuman so eloquently argues in his lead article, these are challenging times for the liberal arts. A society that owes so much to graduates of liberal arts colleges has come to see them as an education for a simpler time.
Why does a liberal arts education now seem out of place? Perhaps it is that, in times of rapid change, an education that offers the certainty of “textbook solutions” is more comforting than one that promises creative, thoughtful, and flexible “improvisation” in the face of a complex world. It may be that a narrowly focused, carefully applied education seems to provide a solid anchor for our fast-paced lifestyle. Does the quick exchange of information and experiences favor an education that offers certain, immediate, and visible rewards? Certainly it takes an element of faith to pursue the counter-intuitive promises of a liberal arts education in a results-oriented society.