Critical thinker, creative problem solver, strong writer, service focused, global citizen.
These are the hallmarks of a Whittier College graduate—the product of an excellent liberal arts education.
Since its inception, Whittier’s multidisciplinary curriculum has been carefully designed to prepare students for success in life and work. This is even more important in a world that has become smaller, more complex, and which is changing at an increasingly rapid pace.
And it is not just the world of higher education that appreciates the importance of a strong liberal arts curriculum, but employers more and more understand that hires with a well-rounded education will become their most valued long-term team members. Recent studies show that 80 percent of employers are seeking employees with the exact qualities that exemplify the Whittier graduate.
How this preparation is achieved is not a simple formula, but an effort that begins during orientation and continues over the student’s four years at Whittier, involving nearly every department on campus.
The goal of the Whittier liberal arts curriculum is encapsulated in the College’s 4 Cs approach— Community: functioning and thriving within a variety of communities; Communication: communicating perceptions, feelings, ideas, beliefs, and values with others; Culture: understanding differing cultural perspectives people bring to the challenge of being human; and Connections: making connections between people and ideas, between disciplines, between curricular and extra-curricular life.
Moreover, the Four Cs reach beyond the classroom to include study abroad, residential life, the Faculty Masters Program, the Cultural Center, career preparation, athletics programs, clubs, and organizations, all of which are also designed around these four tenets. But what exactly does this look like on the College campus?
Whittier students, regardless of major, have the opportunity to test out different areas of interest while progressing toward a degree. In the classroom, open discussions and presentations guide students’ understanding of new and familiar subjects. In the lab and in the field, faculty and student collaborative research brings to life the lessons learned in the classroom. Service projects, coordinated by Center for Engagement with Communities, encourage students to come up with creative solutions for a myriad of community issues. In the Campus Center, students will learn how to facilitate group meetings, edit a student newspaper, or organize a campus-wide event. And, in the Digital Liberal Arts Center, students and faculty are empowered to make full use of the digital technologies that are reshaping the way subjects are taught and transforming research throughout all disciplines.
All Whittier graduates—regardless of major or career goal—will leave with a greater understanding of how the world works, how knowledge is attained, the value of service, the importance of two-way communication, and the power of tolerance and diversity. A Whittier liberal arts education prepares students for any imaginable career from law and medicine to business and education, and for careers we have never heard of yet, but might be just right for that graduate.
In the following articles, faculty and administrators add important perspectives to how the College approaches education. And, you will read about current and former students who are perfect and diverse illustrations of the true nature and value of Whittier’s liberal arts curriculum.
Darrin Good – Senior Administrator
A physics and astronomy major looks up at the stars and sees more than most people would.