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Trent Alumnus Defends Value of Liberal Arts Education

Dr. Adam Chapnick publishes essay in The Literary Review of Canada

Trent Alumnus Defends Value of Liberal Arts Education
Trent Alumnus Defends Value of Liberal Arts Education

University graduates in the liberal arts have a tremendous advantage in the job market, according to Trent alumnus Dr. Adam Chapnick.

"Their critical thinking, reading and writing abilities should make them indispensable," Dr. Chapnick says in an essay that appears in The Literary Review of Canada, a leading forum for discussion and debate on political, cultural and social topics.

Dr. Chapnick, who graduated from Trent in 1998 with a B.A. in History and English, is currently the deputy director of education at the Canadian Forces College and an associate professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada.

In his essay, entitled Arts Advantage: Why enrolling in the liberal arts is smarter than you think, Dr. Chapnick rejects the view that liberal arts programs do not meet the labour market needs of the 21st century, pointing out that one third of all CEO's of Fortune 500 companies studied the liberal arts.

"The liberal arts themselves, and the skills that studying them offers, are more relevant than ever, and those who recognize their value and apply themselves accordingly seem to be doing quite well," he says.

But Dr. Chapnick also observes that it is not enough to just graduate from university, indicating that there is a difference between getting a degree and getting an education.

"What matters about a university education, particularly in the liberal arts, is less your choice of major, and more how you study and what you learn," he says. "A failure to develop the necessary critical thinking skills in university means graduating into a globalized world in which there will always be countless others better prepared to take advantage of desirable employment opportunities."

To that end, Dr. Chapnick offers suggestions on how governments, universities and employers can work together to foster deep learning amongst liberal arts students.

Dr. Chapnick praises Trent for providing the type of education that he advances in his essay. "The small-group learning environment that characterized the liberal arts classrooms when I was an undergraduate was conducive to real learning, which made my degree, I think, extremely valuable," he said.

To read Mr. Chapnick's full essay, visit

Posted on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

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