Liberal Education Program


The Liberal Education Program provides an academic framework for collaboration and transformation within the community that is Whittier College.

Through the Liberal Education Program, Whittier College prepares students to solve problems and communicate ideas in an increasingly complex and interdependent world community. It does this through its emphasis on cultural perspectives and the importance of connections between different fields of knowledge. Both critical thinking (the development of the skills and methods necessary for systematic investigation—i.e., the ability to define, analyze, and synthesize using a variety of methods and technologies) and the practical application of knowledge inform all elements of the program and are central to the transformation that distinguishes Whittier College graduates.

Students interested in an alternative curricular path can apply to the Whittier Scholars Program.

Liberal Education Program Learning Goals

I. Students should develop the ability to make connections across disciplines in order to understand the convergence and divergence of different fields of knowledge and to understand the nature of an academic community.

II. Students should develop an understanding of, and competency in, the use of signs and symbols to construct, create, perceive, and communicate meaning.

III. Students should develop the capacity to entertain multiple perspectives and interpretations.

IV. Students should develop an understanding of culture and the connections between themselves and others in relation to physical, historical, social, and global contexts.

V. Students should develop breadth, defined as familiarity with essential concepts in major fields, and depth, defined as knowledge of at least one field (usually achieved in the major).

Outline of the Liberal Education Program Core

The goals of the Liberal Education Program are met by a set of core requirements that are contained in a framework of four categories. The selection of these four categories is a reflection of what we value most here at Whittier College.

  • Community: The transformative experience begins in learning communities that introduce the idea of building connections across disciplines, as well as the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the world.
  • Communication: Students learn to communicate understanding using different sets of symbols.
  • Cultural Perspectives: Students gain cultural perspective by exploring different cultures.
  • Connections: Students again connect as a community in the context of interdisciplinary courses and pairs.