From the Dean of Arts and Sciences

Welcome to Arts and Sciences at Bentley University, where learning meets the world.

To give you an idea of what we are doing differently at Bentley, here is my take on a few important issues facing higher education and why I think that our solution a new educational fusion is a very good one. We encourage you to consider joining us at Bentley to experience it.

"The New Educational Fusion"

There is an ongoing debate lately over which type of degrees or majors lead to better employment opportunities. As the dean of arts and sciences at a business university, I am in a unique position and perhaps have some different views on the topic.

To those who extol the virtues and benefits of attending a liberal arts college, I would simply point out that there are many people who do not want to major in liberal arts and sciences, and courses like philosophy. That is why new data from the Social Science Research Council is so alarming when it says: "Students majoring in liberal arts fields see "significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study." Students majoring in business, education, social work and communications showed the smallest gains... " What is true is that by moving too far away from the liberal arts, students risk not developing many of the skills they will most need in life and in their careers. And the mass turning away from the arts and sciences that is all too often a side-effect of the growth of business majors could even be said to threaten to dumb-down American society more generally.

But there are alternatives to this doomsday scenario that combine the best of business and arts and sciences.

First, we need to recognize that students' professional objectives and education can be merged in a new educational fusion. This fusion is the integration of arts and sciences with business where philosophy, science, math, history, English, modern languages, etc. work in tandem with professional courses to provide a novel type of education - one in which professional education and arts and sciences each add value to the other.  The arts and sciences should be encountered in a place of learning (not merely online) where culturally important knowledge, contexts of learning, critical thinking, complex reasoning, and communication skills are developed simultaneously with rigorous mentoring and training in professional learning.

Bentley University offers just one example of this new educational fusion. Every student here majors or minors in business while simultaneously enrolled in a basic core of liberal arts courses. Nearly 800 of Bentley's 4,000 undergraduates are double-majoring in business and our innovative Liberal Studies major which students complete by combining writing, faculty mentoring, and general education courses following a particular theme, without additional major courses.

Once given a solid foundation in the humanities, professionals will go on to educate themselves and maintain their interest. The 2010 job placement rate at our university 99 percent of the responding graduating class is employed or in graduate school six months after graduation illustrates this substantially.

Business executives tell us often, "The basic business skills are what get you a job at our company. But to advance, you need the broad background of the liberal arts."

We should not portray the current crisis in American education as business versus the liberal arts. A business major is one of the best majors any student could choose. So is philosophy. But to combine them in a single course of study might be the best of all.

— Daniel Everett, PhD