Want to make a meaningful difference in your community? At Shimer, we believe that a whole community is only as strong as its parts. Changing the world begins with each individual—formulating their own ideas, listening to the opinions of others, adapting their perspectives, and continually evolving.
Studies from national research groups like the American Council of Independent Colleges show that studying the humanities helps students grow personally, impact their communities, and take leadership roles throughout their careers. In short, your liberal arts education can help you become an active and engaged citizen.
Here are four research-based reasons why the humanities and liberal arts produce engaged citizens:
1. Humanities Students Learn to Think About Complex Social Justice Issues
At its core, a liberal arts and humanities education is designed to teach you to think more critically, analytically, and skillfully. By analyzing great works of literature, philosophy, mathematics, and social sciences, and speaking about them in class-wide dialogues, you learn more than just facts and figures.
For example, Shimer alumnus Michael Weinman, recently held an open seminar with Shimer students about “confronting the pressing issues of the day and fundamental problems of the human condition.” He encouraged students to tackle tricky topics like environmental accountability, defining the ‘liberal’ of liberal arts, and the duties of responsible citizenship.
In humanities college, you learn about these and many more of our world’s toughest intersectional issues. Through dialogue and analysis, the complexities of these issues are illuminated, giving students the chance to come to their own creative conclusions.
2. Small Humanities Colleges Foster Communities that Value Every Student
According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, students who attend private colleges and universities are more likely to say that their campus provides them with support to thrive socially than students at public institutions. These students at small, private colleges report that their institutions are invested in their personal and social success.
At an alternative liberal arts college like Shimer, class sizes are kept small, and the campus isn’t made up of any more than 100 students. It’s easier for our students to build strong relationships with professors and peers than it is for those at large colleges, and it’s more difficult for any student to fall through the cracks. Everyone has an important part to play in our community.
3. Liberal Arts Students Practice Self-Governance in Campus Unions/Assemblies
Not only are all students valued, but all voices are heard at small colleges like Shimer. Our students prepare for lives of active and engaged citizenship by participating in student unions, clubs, and our self-governing body called the Assembly.
The Assembly meets regularly to share open dialogue and the exchange of ideas about how our institution should be run. Every community member has a say in everything from Shimer’s school policies to marketing efforts. Each person has one vote. Each decision is made with autonomy, compassion, and progress in mind.
4. Humanities Colleges Encourage Opportunities for Community Service
As reported by the Independent Colleges and Universities National Profile, students at private colleges are more likely to vote and to volunteer than young people in the population at large. They say 77 percent of 18 to 24 year old private college students are registered to vote, a full 24 percent above the national average for this age group.
Students at small liberal arts colleges like Shimer are given plenty of opportunities to put their optimism and passion into practice. Lessons in social equality and solidarity often inspire them to take on everything from grassroots community projects to NGO organizing initiatives.
Are you interested in taking action at one of the best humanities programs Chicago has to offer?
Visit Shimer to get started today.