To read this content please select one of the options below:

Is there a case for a “liberal education”?

Tom P. Abeles (Editor, On The Horizon )

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 4 February 2014




Since the creation of the trivium and quadrivium as the core for a post- secondary education, education itself has undergone substantive change, particularly since the end of the eighteenth century. Unspoken is the change in the population seeking such advanced knowledge, as well as the idea that the original elements might be recast as liberal studies and STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics); unspoken, too, are the ramifications. This paper aims to discuss these issues.


The increased emphasis on STEM and its applications has reduced funding for liberal studies, leading to the potential for seriously reducing the perceived importance of the humanities and related liberal studies. This creates a feedback loop, as the increasing cost of education shifts the focus towards “practical” knowledge.


As with the trivium and quadrivium, where it was expected that the latter was focused on work-related skills, there may be an increasing split in society between those who have the fiscal resources and obtain a liberal education, and the balance who enter the applied professions, amplifying the increasing socioeconomic gap in today's society. It also becomes problematic for members of society to effectively participate in the political process.


An innovative look at the need for liberal education in the modern world.



P. Abeles, T. (2014), "Is there a case for a “liberal education”?", On the Horizon, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 67-71.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles