Philosophy and Mission: Engaged Liberal Arts

Cultivate the ability to move between reflection and real-world application.

Three students in discussion
Oberlin students discuss the legacy of Shirley Graham Du Bois ’34 as part of a two-day symposium held in honor of the Oberlin alumna, composer, playwright, biographer, nation builder, and activist.
Photo credit: Dale Preston

Why the engaged liberal arts?

A classical liberal arts education provides intellectual breadth and depth in the richness of humanistic, scientific and artistic inquiry. It awakens us to the excitement of lifelong learning. An engaged liberal arts education builds on the classical model, extending it into the 21st century. It draws on the dynamism of intellectual inquiry and puts it in the service of addressing the major challenges of contemporary life. Real-world settings test what we know and invite us to rethink our certainties.

Engaged liberal arts is about acquiring the judgment, wisdom, practical skills, and sense of purpose essential for Obies to impact the world for good.

Three students sit on a couch together with laptops
Director of Academic Peer Advising, Nathan Carpenter ’20 (right), works with students as part of a CELA workshop.

Explore. Experience. Launch.

Purposeful action begins with imagination and self-discovery. How will you bring your unique set of talents out into the world? How will you use your education to connect? Each path is unique and the answers to these questions evolve with you. Our CELA staff accompany you as you explore your interests, pursue formative experiences, and plan how to best launch into professional and postgraduate life.