Faculty panel to discuss practice of liberal arts education

Jeromy Stacy

Todd Giles, English assistant professor, talks a little about Continuing Education Film Series: “Moonrise Kingdom” and some key elements to look for throughout the film in Wichita Falls Museum of Art, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Photo by Francisco Martinez

A panel of seven professors, one from each college, will come together for a discussion titled Implementing a Liberal Arts Education; Moving from concept to practice, in Legacy Hall on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

Todd Giles, assistant professor of English and panel moderator, said, “As an institution, we should always be asking, ‘What are we doing and how can we do things better?'”

Giles has noticed a nationwide decline in the liberal arts. He believes that this panel discussion will help make students more aware of, and equip the faculty with new ways to practice, a liberal arts education.

“When we talk about the liberal arts traditionally, we’re talking about things like philosophy, social science, the natural sciences, the traditional educational model. Nationwide, due to budgetary cuts, the liberal arts are impacted in many ways,” Giles said.

This panel is a follow up discussion from the panel held in Shawnee Theater in September of 2015, titled From Campus to Community: (Re)valuing the Liberal Arts and Sciences in the 21st Century.

Giles said, “Essentially, I put together and moderated a panel to talk about the value of the traditional liberal arts and sciences. It was incredibly well attended and got a lot of good feedback.”

Giles had hoped that the first panel would spark an interest to have more discussions.

“I actually kind of ended the discussion with, ‘I hope this is the first of many that will come,'” he said. “It’s a good time to do a follow-up one.”

The second panel will have a different goal, according to Giles.

He said, “Essentially the first one was like, ‘This is what the liberal arts and sciences tradition is and here’s why it’s valuable not only in the classroom but in society in general,’ and this one is more along the lines of how we, as professors, bring these ideas into our classes.”

Giles wants to use this discussion as an opportunity to encourage professors to find new ways to keep liberal arts a practice, not just an idea, in the classroom.

“As a relatively new faculty member here, I’ve been asking myself, ‘What does that mean? Am I engaged in that tradition?’ There’s a lot of good stuff we are doing, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t be doing more,” Giles said.

Giles said that, under the new leadership of Suzanne Shipley, university president, now is the time to bring up questions like these that may have lied dormant for a while.

Giles hopes that this panel inspires new discussions and leads to more events like this one.

“It would be great if we could, as an institution, continue through the years to have talks about it,” he said.

Giles believes that continuing talks that revolve around the topic of liberal arts education is essential to keeping the liberal arts alive on campus.

Giles said, “These are major identity issues. Any institution, whether it’s higher ed or a business, if it wants to maintain a sense of  relevance and being in the forefront, it has to ask these types of questions.”

Professors on the panel

  • Andrea Button | Assistant Professor of Sociology
  • Angel Cartwright | Assistant Professor of Education
  • Mitzi Lewis | Associate Professor of Mass Communication
  • Dale McDonald | Associate Professor of Engineering
  • Paul San Miguel | Assistant Professor of Accounting and MIS
  • Mike Shipley | Professor of Biology
  • Kathleen Williamson | Associate Professor and Chair of Nursing