Now I want to bring up something else from the article by President Meric Gertler. It's not a major point—more like a motherhood throwaway line—but I think it raises an interesting question. Gertler said,
U of T reaffirms the value of a broad liberal arts education at the undergraduate level, and we are working to help our graduates extract the full benefit from that education.I suppose there are as many definitions of "liberal arts education" as there are teachers but I think we can agree on a few points. A "liberal arts education" does not put much emphasis on math and science courses. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there are many who would be happy with a "liberal arts education" that didn't include a single math or science course.
I think that there are some extremely important humanities courses that every student should take. Philosophy (logic and reasoning) is the most obvious one but there's also history and maybe even sociology. I think university students should be familiar with great literature and many other topics in the humanities programs. But I also think that every single university student needs to take (and pass) some math and science courses in order to call themselves university-educated.
This is the 21st century. Surely we can agree that science is at least as important as "liberal arts"? Maybe we should be talking about a "broad science and humanities" education as the important value that we are trying to achieve?1
I'm not sure where that leaves the thousands of students who are getting degrees in commerce and business. Perhaps we should admit that those undergraduate programs, like engineering, are not really education programs. They are job training programs.
1. I'm not talking about "astronomy for poets" and other watered-down science courses. Humanities majors should take the same courses that science majors take just as science majors take the same courses that humanities students take.