Dale Graden, a history professor at the University of Idaho, spoke on the importance of studying liberal arts programs in a lecture Friday.
Graden said the lecture was aimed at visiting students in town for the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in order to give them a better glimpse at UI’s liberal arts education.
Graden said he not only wanted to advertise UI’s programs, but the humanities in general, and encouraged students to explore a variety of areas before deciding on a study course.
“If you have the science bug, do some science, or if you’re thinking about the humanities, pursue those, but just make sure to do some crossover to get the best understanding of what you want,” Graden said. “Just don’t let yourself get stuck too deep before deciding a path.”
Graden said he believes UI has tremendous resources to help students find their niche.
He said he believes that everyone should take at least one humanities course no matter their major, because it will help them to develop a sense of social responsibility.
“My plea for the liberal arts is that the world is complex, it is gray, not black and white, and the liberal arts are a way to help simplify the complexities surrounding us,” Graden said.
Graden said he believes the humanities offer the best avenue for a well-rounded education because they provide students with critical skills they can’t find anywhere else.
“It is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with diversity and change,” Graden said.
Graden also said studying the liberal arts provides students with a broad knowledge of the wider world.
Jazz Fest participant Macarah Zolcoski said she attended the lecture because she wanted to get involved in the liberal arts eventually, but she was unsure of how to do so and thought the seminar was the best place to learn.
“I figured why not learn here by coming to a lecture that specifically addresses what I want to know,” Zolcoski said.
Zolcoski said after the discussion, she had more confidence going forward in her pursuit of the humanities and is even considering attending UI.
“I had no idea that the liberal arts had such a supportive backing,” Zolcoski said. “It’s very encouraging.”
Graden said he hoped the lecture could shed a little light on the important worldview this type of field provides and encouraged students to find their passion, even if it lies within the STEM field.
“By the grace of God, by the grace of the higher spirits … I stand before classrooms at the University of Idaho and have employment with something that I can’t wait to get to work,” Graden said.
Olivia Heersink can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @heersinkolivia