On the Сoncept of Liberal Education

Education 6 June 2018
Today the Russian education system is undergoing evolutionary changes and each university chooses its own model of development. Some of them stick to a more traditional pattern; others introduce campus courses, where students choose extra subjects in addition to their major field of study. The University of Tyumen, for example, is implementing a system of individual education trajectories. One way or another, all of them address the topic of liberal education and look to the tried-and-tested models adopted by world-class universities.

There are several concepts of liberal education

Certain universities follow a concept that involves the compulsory study of “great texts”. The main purpose of the bachelor program is to study all the books on the list, while further specialization is acquired afterwards. The University of Buckingham has an undergraduate program whose students are expected to read 120 “great books”, discuss them and write essays on them in order to get a bachelor degree.

Another concept recognizes the existence of universal knowledge and skills which every person should possess. This education program, like the first, presupposes a given set of modules but they do not necessarily include the study of literary masterpieces. The list of disciplines may vary, what is more important is the final result.

The concept of progressivism is different from the above-mentioned approaches. Students choose individual educational trajectories for which there are no established frameworks – the Open Curriculum is designed to enable students to develop their own programs of study. For example, Brown University, a member of the Ivy League, has no required core curriculum. The only requirements at Brown are that all students must successfully complete 32 modules in four years. A student can take 32 courses in math and know it inside out or take 32 modules from a variety of disciplines and know a little about everything.

The Core Curriculum has the opposite approach. All students begin their undergraduate education by taking courses from the Common Core curriculum, irrespective of their choice in major. Among universities implementing the Core Curriculum are the University of Chicago, Columbia University and California Institute of Technology.

Since 2017, the University of Tyumen has been developing an educational model that combines both Core and Open Curriculums.

This educational model gives students an opportunity to shape their own education and choose courses that reflect their interests. It also encourages them to develop digital literacy skills, critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities, independence, creativity, and flexibility as thinkers. Moreover, students are free to choose from a hundred elective courses in five fields of knowledge. Thus, having taken different sets of disciplines, every student becomes a unique specialist who stands a better chance of finding the right workplace for them. 

Source: UTMN Department of Strategic Communications

Link to Russian version: https://www.utmn.ru/presse/novosti/obrazovanie/534411/ 


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