What can I do?

student team working outdoorsWhat can you do with a liberal arts degree? Just about anything!

ASU is committed to graduating master learners, who have the capacity to adapt to a lifetime of societal and technological change—a capability and lifelong mindset honed in a liberal arts education. And given that communication and analytical skills are attributes highly prized in new hires, liberal arts grads may even have a competitive advantage as they begin their careers, according to a recent survey of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The survey results were the basis for a 2011 Chronicle of Higher Education story titled "The Liberal Arts Are Work-Force Development," which explored the many skills liberal arts students bring to the workplace.

"Businesses spend a lot of money on 'training' classes for their employees," noted an expert in preparing liberal arts grads for non-liberal arts field who offered comment for the story. "Classes in business writing, presentation skills, business analysis, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and cross-cultural teamwork are deemed critical to success in today's business environment. But most are aimed at essentially backfilling the liberal arts, making up for education gaps."

quote from IBM executive

The article emphasized the importance of writing. "As the management guru Peter Drucker argued, communication is the one skill required of all professionals, regardless of field. 'As soon as you take one step up the career ladder,' he said, 'your effectiveness depends on your ability to communicate your thoughts in writing and in speaking.'"

Doing research; describing processes; drawing inferences; making connections; being able to think critically, independently and creatively; reaching and defending conclusions—these are skills practiced heavily in the liberal arts and that we emphasize in the School of Social Transformation.

IBM executive Jim Spohrer, director of the company's worldwide university programs, recently shared some advice with university and college presidents about what needs to change in higher education. School of Social Transformation students will be pleased to note that being able to work across boundaries topped his list. Indeed, all four of his admonishments are hallmarks of the School of Social Transformation faculty and student experience ... 

  • Help students be more interdisciplinary.  
  • In addition to other types of coursework, ensure that students work on real-world challenges. 
  • Find better ways to encourage faculty who are boundary-spanners.
  • Provide faculty and students more opportunities to connect locally and globally.