By Kuhl, Nick on February 6, 2020.
Liberal education is rooted in an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity and change.
Today, during the regular weekly Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs session, set for noon at the Royal Canadian Legion, speaker Shelly Wismath will present “Why is Liberal Education Important in the 21st Century?”
Wismath is a professor of mathematics and taught for many years in the department of Math & Computer Science at the University of Lethbridge. Her research in abstract general algebra resulted in three books and more than 60 research papers published.
In 2009, she moved to the Liberal Education Program, where she teaches courses on quantitative and problem-solving skills designed for non-math, non-science majors. Wismath was awarded the U of L’s Distinguished Teaching Award, held the inaugural Board of Governors’ Teaching Chair, and in 2017 was named as a 3M National Teaching Fellow.
In October 2017, she was appointed as the first dean of the university’s new School of Liberal Education.
The philosophy of liberal education traces back to the classical era of the ancient Greeks and Romans, who developed a logical and systematic approach to looking at the world around us, and an education system to produce informed leaders who would engage in the running of their city-states.
The speaker will argue the pillars of our liberal education model – breadth and integration of knowledge, critical thinking skills of evidence-based reasoning, and the application of that breadth and skill in civic engagement – capture the essence of our teaching and learning, and indeed of our research. She will say it is a model of all that a university can and should be for students and citizens.