WIIH underscores the virtues of Wheaton’s Liberal Arts education

Many students, as well as parents, are won­dering what will become of the Liberal Arts degree. Some are questioning if the benefits of a liberal arts education are still relevant in today’s changing society. Many argue that a college educa­tion should be for those focusing their pursuits in the “STEM” majors: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

While that may be up for debate, there has been an effort by defenders of the Arts and Humanities to establish and improve upon the position of the Liberal Arts in the twenty-first century.

In an effort to emphasize a crucial part of this edu­cation, Wheaton College has founded the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (WIIH).

Officially inaugurated on April 1, the Institute is aimed towards expanding student’s academic learn­ing through a wide range of guest speakers and events. The Institute’s mission statement, located on the WIIH website, explains that “Students…are given the oppor­tunity to interact with distinguished guests in a variety of settings…[stepping] out of their comfort zones as they employ their knowledge and test it with guests.”

Every year, two professors will be in charge of cre­ating and facilitating a theme that will be explored for that year. This exploration will include a variety of events and opportunities, such as film series, panels, guest lecturers, professors, conferences and more. The two directing professors will teach two courses that focus and integrate the theme of the Institute.

This program will be beneficial to both students and faculty. Students will be able to take the academic skills they have been learning in the classroom and ap­ply them to professional relationships with professors and guests.

This year, the two co-directors are Professors Yuen-Gen Liang and Touba Ghadessi, respectively rep­resenting the disciplines of History and Art History. In addition to Liang and Ghadessi, fourteen students from nine disciplines helped in the founding of the WIIH. The first year theme for WIIH is titled “The Humanities Give Back: The Humanities in Profes­sional Fields.” The purpose of the theme is to “show­case the real benefits of infusing professional fields with the humanities.”

“The humanities lead to practical skills in the professional world,” the WIIH website reads. “The intellectual flexibility young adults gain through a humanistic Liberal Arts education prepares them for leadership roles in the twenty-first century.”

This message will be central to the Institute’s events, and has already made an appearance in the first event back in February. That talk featured four medical professionals, from a wide array of special­ties, who were invited to a forum to discuss the in­fluence that Liberal Arts and Humanities have in the medical field.

The WIIH looks to provide a more engaged and dy­namic liberal arts at Wheaton; keep up with it on their website, which provides more information, as well as upcoming events scheduled.