Residential liberal arts colleges maintain a unique place in the landscape of American higher education. These schools are characterized by broad-based curricula, small class size, and interaction between students and faculty. Aimed at developing students’ intellectual literacy and critical-thinking skills rather than specific professional preparation, the value proposition made by these colleges has recently come under intense pressure. Remaking College brings together a large and distinguished group of higher education leaders to define the American liberal arts model, to describe the challenges these institutions face, and to propose sustainable solutions.
Both economic and strategic environments have developed to threaten these schools. Since 1990, for example, 35 percent of these institutions have transformed into “professional” colleges offering more vocational fields to their curricula while others have closed their doors entirely. Is there a future for these uniquely American institutions like Vassar and Smith, Macalester and Pomona, Middlebury and Swarthmore?
Remaking College elucidates the shifting economic and financial models for liberal arts colleges and considers the opportunities afforded by technology, globalism, and intercollegiate cooperative models. Finally, it considers the unique position these schools can play in their communities and in the larger world.