John Wesley Honors College

What is Christian Liberal Education?

toland teachingAlthough the precise nature and purpose of a “liberal education” are matters of debate, the basic goal of liberal learning is the holistic development of human potential conceived as a flourishing, lifelong participation in truth,
goodness, and beauty. In pursuit of this goal, a liberal learning community draws students into disciplines of intellectual, moral, and aesthetic formation in order to liberate them from ignorance, delusion, and vice and equip them to lead lives of understanding, wisdom, and virtue.

Accordingly, a liberal education challenges students to develop a holistic life calling that actively integrates various life pursuits into an intentional vision of truth, goodness, and beauty.

Whether by design or default, the character and aspirations of every liberal learning community are determined by a common vision of what it means for human beings to flourish and pursue lives well-lived. Any such shared vision is the product of a particular tradition(s) of wisdom. In other words, a liberal education is never values free or neutral about what constitutes the “good life.” Consequently, communities of liberal learning must be clear about what tradition(s) of wisdom animate both their working definitions of truth, goodness, and beauty and their chosen methods for putting such ideals into practice.

Taking its cues from its namesake, the John Wesley Honors College cultivates a program of liberal learning rooted in the historic catholic tradition of the Christian faith and the vision of human flourishing this tradition of wisdom has articulated through the centuries. Our understanding of truth, goodness, and beauty is oriented and shaped by the theological narrative of Triune love, creation, fall, incarnation, redemption, and spiritual holiness that the historic Body of Christ (in all of its many forms) has sought to embody. Our conception of a “life well-lived” is inseparable from the human potential for faith, hope, and love Christ’s redemptive work established and from
participation in the communities of self-giving love these spiritual virtues inspire. Our liberal learning community is devoted to educational and liturgical practices that develop incarnational lives of insight and imagination while creatively engaging the questions of human existence, the concerns of particular academic disciplines, and the complexities of everyday life. In short, the JWHC faculty and students aspire to become more fully human in the image of Christ.