What Was, What Is, and What Will Be
Kara A. Godwin and Philip G. Altbach
Debates about higher education’s purpose have long been polarized between specialized preparation for specific vocations and a broad, general knowledge foundation known as liberal education. Excluding the United States, specialized curricula have been the dominant global norm. Yet, quite surprisingly given this enduring trend, liberal education has new salience in higher education worldwide. This discussion presents liberal education’s non-Western, Western, and u.s. historical roots as a backdrop for discussing its contemporary global resurgence. Analysis from the Global Liberal Education Inventory provides an overview of liberal education’s renewed presence in each of the regions and speculation about its future development.