Why Create a Self-designed Major?
Roman antiquity has contributed both the name and meaning to Liberal Arts. For the Romans, artes liberales represented those intellectual skills required among the free Roman citizens who would assume the responsibility for the directions, actions, and governance of their own society. Slaves might have expertise in medicine, business and accounting, flute-playing, and teaching young children, but they would never be allowed to make decisions concerning society.
The skills needed by the Romans are closely related to the different disciplines and programs found in the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts today. The programs in literature, language, and history reflect the need for citizen to be familiar with the deeds and consequences of other times and other places. The desires to write effectively and communicate well descend from the ancient need to persuade fellow citizens toward (or from) a course of action. Questions of wrong and right and of personal behavior stem from the philosophic inquiries into the relationship of the divine to the mortal and questions of ethical and moral behavior and the purpose of existence.
"The critical reading, analytical thinking, and communication skills I gained in the past four years have prepared me for the world by preparing me for a life of learning." Diane Amdor
The ability to draw courses from across several disciplines can lead to a broader appreciation of the chosen area or theme. This breadth may become more satisfying than a traditional combination of one major plus one minor area of study. The long-term value of this option will reflect the maturity and discipline of the student designing it. A successful design will approach the ancient ideal of achieving the acquisition of all liberal arts, not just some at the expense of others.