Thursday, December 19, 2013

Liberal Arts Education in the 21st Century Workforce

The importance of a liberal arts education in the twenty-first-century was asserted in a recent blog post on nation, a blog sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The blog post discusses a recent TEDxLawrenceU presentation, “A Midsummer Night’s Dreamliner, or, Shakespeare Saves the 787,” by Rick Davis.

In his post, Davis asserts that a liberal arts education is invaluable and could have come to the aid of the manufacture of the 787 Dreamliner. Additionally, the total cost of the airplane would be much less. Boeing outsourced manufacturing and assembly to a number of firms with little collaboration among them. He contends that the reliance on only technological thinking at these firms was, in part, the cause of this lack of cooperation and more seriously, the cause of some very expensive delays. These delays could have been prevented if the manufacture of the Dreamliner had incorporated skills that are usually associated with liberal arts study such as creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Davis states that many view liberal arts education as not important, costly, and inefficient. Boeing could have been more efficient and saved money in the manufacturing of the 787 Dreamliner. He believes that the losses sustained by Boeing, due to additional redesigns, supply-chain breakdowns, and multiple groundings of the Dreamliner, could have been avoided by invoking a workforce that was trained in the liberal arts tradition and able to think creatively, problem solve critically, and collaboratively.

Click here to read the full blog post.

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