Institute for the Liberal Arts

Institute for the Liberal Arts

The goal of the Institute for the Liberal Arts is to:

Draw on Swarthmore College's reputation for innovation and tradition and its worldwide network to serve, support, and evolve the role of liberal arts education on the national and international stage

The Institute has three main objectives:

1. To foster curricular, pedagogical, and scholarly innovation and to disseminate the results of this activity.  To do this the Institute will:

  • Support scholarly experimentation on the part of faculty by providing them the support they need to engage with topics of interest as they emerge
  • Provide a place for thoughtful, nondisciplinary-specific discussions and collaborations among faculty and other invited scholars that will engage students and be supported by the expertise of staff
  • Create publications using various technologies to share and engage with our diverse publics

2. To engage in generative thinking about the future of the liberal arts and higher education. To do this the Institute will:

  • Promote a rigorous self-examination of what the concept of "liberal arts" means to us as a community and facilitate-through speakers and symposia-an inquiry into the institutional and intellectual histories of the idea
  • Host events featuring prominent thinkers on topics of critical importance to the future of the liberal arts such as "sources of imagination and innovation" and "the future of expert authority"
  • Take the lead in strengthening the liberal arts in the global community

3. To facilitate conversations between liberal arts institutions and those who live "liberal arts lives." To do this the Institute will:

  • Sponsor engagements between Swarthmore faculty, students, staff, and alumni on the impact of a liberal arts education on their lives
  • Host symposia on topics related to the future of liberal arts
  • Partner with other institutions to facilitate public conversations about the importance of the liberal arts and export, through faculty consultants, the knowledge and expertise gained through these conversations 


Institute for the Liberal Arts Committee Members

Ben Berger, Associate Professor of Political Science

Michael Brown, Professor of Physics

Tim Burke, Professor of History

Rachel Buurma, Assistant Professor of English Literature

Garikai Campbell, Associate Professor of Mathematics

Rebecca Chopp, College President, Professor of Religion

Philip Jefferson, Centennial Professor of Economics

Patricia Reilly, Associate Provost and Associate Professor of Art History

Pam Shropshire, Associate Director for Program Development, Institute for the Liberal Arts

Patricia White, Professor of Film and Media Studies

Matt Zucker, Assistant Professor of Engineering