Global leaders who benefitted from Liberal Studies education
Some of the greatest minds in the world started out with a Liberal Studies education which has had a massive impact on their life and career
What does the Deputy Director of IMF have in common with business leaders at Alibaba, Disney, YouTube, and Avon, apart from them being the brains behind some of the most revolutionary ideas that have changed our world as we know it? Look no further than their education. A degree in Liberal Studies is an intriguing thread that connects the likes of Susan Wojcicki (Polish-American business executive who is the CEO of YouTube), Jack Ma (Chinese business magnate co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group), Michael Dammann Eisner (American businessman and former chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company), Gita Gopinath (Indian-American economist who has served as the first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund), and Andrea Jung (Former CEO and chairman of Avon Products; President and Chief Executive Officer of Grameen America) – a curious case of a shared interest in Liberal Studies, where their education has had a massive impact on their journey to building super successful careers.
Wojcicki studied History and Literature at Harvard University and graduated with honours in 1990. Ma attended Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute (currently known as Hangzhou Normal University) and graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Eisner graduated from Denison University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Gita Gopinath received a B.A. degree from Lady Shri Ram College for Women in 1992 and an M.A. degree in Economics from Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, in 1994. Jung graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in English from Princeton University in 1979.
The idea of Liberal Studies is anchored in the Greek concept of a diverse education centred on the intellectual formation of the mind. Grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, and music were all part of the Greeks’ well-rounded education.
Modern Liberal Studies programs offer a wide range of majors and minors in the humanities, social, and natural sciences. Individuals with a Liberal Studies degree can assess and address social, environmental, economic, and political issues while being thoughtful and creative in their approach.
A Liberal Studies degree trains the students not to merely make a livelihood, but also to build a fulfilling life. For example, it can prepare students in a wide range of real-life skills, including empathy, collaboration, agility, critical thinking, decision making, problem solving, logical reasoning, etc. Critical thinking, communication, creative problem solving, self-expression, original research, and lifelong learning are all essential qualities for a successful job and life.
Our society is undergoing significant transformation as we speak. An unstable economy, unforeseen global catastrophes, and future obstacles make for a very unpredictable future. Young people must be taught to anticipate hurdles and recognise possibilities. This necessitates the collaboration of individuals with diverse areas of expertise in order to address a shared problem or capitalize on an opportunity.
If our altered society is to be equitable and sustainable, seven sectors must be addressed: health, education, technology, urbanization, environment, citizenship, and gender. Working together necessitates an understanding of the viewpoints brought to the table by many disciplines, and Liberal Studies brings together students and professors to collaborate on tackling many specific societal concerns. Students are therefore taught not just theory in classrooms, but they imbibe practical knowledge via projects in labs set up to tackle the challenges to our society.
A Liberal Studies background was recommended by 74% of the 320 CEOs polled by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 2013 for a more creative and dynamic workplace. Though Apple’s Steve Jobs was a college dropout, he took Liberal Studies classes throughout his life, crediting them for Apple’s key ideals.
Fundamental changes in civilization’s history have usually been triggered by one great idea or a very common problem. Today, as we grapple with climate change, geo-political tensions, disruption of age-old business practices by technology and social media, etc, there is a pressing need to reorganize experts to meet these challenges. Clearly, no one type of expertise will suffice; scientists and technologists will need to put their heads together with economists, political scientists, and sociologists. Next-generation experts not only need deep knowledge in their respective fields but also need to be able to appreciate the multiple perspectives from diverse disciplines to solve multi-dimensional problems. The School of Liberal Studies at UPES trains its students to work with experts from different fields to solve a common problem.
A Liberal Studies education is worth the investment of time, money, and energy whether you are enthusiastic about a specific subject or simply want a well-rounded education that prepares you to be a part of the future workforce.