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Seamus Mulryan

Committee Member

John Spencer

Committee Member

Jonathan Marks

Committee Member

Stephanie Mackler

Department Chair

John Spencer

Project Description

I argue that liberal arts education is critically important to the creation of a capable public in a democratic society. I draw on David Labaree and Henry Giroux to assert that education is a public good and must serve the purpose of promoting democratic equality. By promoting democratic equality, public education is capable of creating publicly minded citizens. Publicly minded citizens of a democracy must also be free-thinking. Liberal arts education has at its core the aim of creating individuals who are able to think freely and autonomously. In a democratic society where freethinking citizens are necessary in order to bear the responsibilities of a democracy, liberal arts education is imperative. There are noticeable barriers to shifting towards a public K-12 system of education that is rooted in the liberal arts. Changes would need to be made to teacher preparation programs as well as the relationships between schools, institutions of higher education, and humanities foundations. I explore the Paideia Program as a case study to highlight a model of liberal arts education designed for the K-12 classroom that could be more widely implemented if we take seriously the charge of creating freethinking citizens for the well-being of our democracy.