I: Introduction to the College
morality, and knowledge being essential to good government and
the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education
shall forever be encouraged."
from the Northwest Ordinance,
carved above the entrance to Angell Hall
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University
of Michigan is a liberal arts college. Since 1841 the College
has educated students in courses of study leading to the bachelor's
degree. A faculty of two instructed six freshmen and one sophomore
that first year in rhetoric, grammar, Latin and Greek literature
and antiquities, algebra, geometry, surveying, natural science,
ancient history, and Greek philosophy. A College faculty of approximately
900 offers more than 3,400 courses to its 15,522 undergraduates
(Fall Term, 1999 enrollment), nearly two-thirds the total undergraduate
enrollment on the Ann Arbor campus. The emphasis on breadth of
learning, evidenced by the variety of courses in natural sciences,
social sciences, and the humanities required of students more
than a century and a half ago, remains a hallmark of the liberal
the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University
of Michigan is more than a traditional liberal arts and science
college since it interacts with eighteen other schools and colleges
of a large university. For example, in addition to the undergraduate
curricula, graduate programs lead to the master's and doctoral
degrees. These graduate programs offer more than opportunities
for advanced study; they enhance the intellectual and academic
atmosphere of the College. Professors teach both undergraduates
and graduates. Research projects and some classes involve both
undergraduates and graduates. The College provides an enriched
education by way of these opportunities for undergraduates to
associate with graduate students and a research faculty.
in the College do not simply elect a variety of courses from
the multitude available to them in the University. They relate
courses to one another in a way that enables each student to
achieve breadth of understanding in several fields of study and
depth in one or two. Students must not only perform satisfactorily
in their courses; they must also plan programs of study which
support broadly defined principles of distribution and concentration.
Academic advisors assist students in designing such programs
suited to their particular needs and interests.
College sees its primary responsibility, then, as providing an
excellent opportunity for students to achieve a liberal education.
Not all educators agree on what constitutes a liberal education,
but they do agree that it is neither too narrowly focused nor
too diffuse. Students are therefore required to elect courses
from a variety of departments and disciplines to ensure exposure
to different ideas and ways of thinking. An English Composition
requirement is common to all degrees, since educated men and
women should be able to express themselves clearly in speech
and writing in their own language.
skill in the use of language may lead students to the study of
literature, which reveals the avenues of thought and feeling
that language can open. Some students will want to be able to
understand, speak, read, and write a language other than their
own, and be acquainted with the literature of that language.
Mastery of a language increases subtlety of mind and sharpens
sensitivity to the use and meaning of words in one's own language.
Many students will also seek some historical perspective on their
own times by studying the art, artifacts, and ideas of the civilizations
from which their own have developed.
mathematics underlies many fields of study in the natural and
social sciences and is increasingly useful to some humanists,
most students will find further understanding of mathematics
essential to their education. And just as they may couple language
study with literature, they may couple mathematics with study
in at least one of the natural or physical sciences whose creative
efforts so dominate modern culture. It is in these areas, in
fact, where human reason and imagination have made their most
dramatic progress since the seventeenth century, but especially
in the twentieth.
in order to understand the duties and problems facing them as
members of a complex society, most students will want to investigate
at least one of the social sciences. A variety of courses offering
instruction in comparative social systems, governments, economies,
histories, and cultures meets this end.
their academic programs, liberal arts and science students plan
for depth of study as well as breadth of scope. To study a subject
in depth can be the most rewarding and liberating experience
students can have, and one that may occupy them throughout their
lives. Although students should not specialize to the neglect
of distribution, knowledge advances by specialization, and students
can gain some of the excitement of discovery by pressing toward
the outer limits of human knowledge in some field. Close study
of a seemingly narrow area of investigation will often disclose
ramifications and connections that will alter perspectives on
many other subjects. Such study also refines judgments and introduces
students to processes for discovering new truths.
students with a liberal education, the College of Literature,
Science, and the Arts continues its long tradition of public
responsibility. Established skills and knowledge are transmitted
to these men and women throughout their undergraduate careers.
They also develop their ability to think, to respond to ideas,
and to test hypotheses. Individuals educated in this way will
be able to live successfully in a rapidly changing world and
to give it necessary leadership and vision.
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