Curriculum for Liberal Education

Statement of Purpose

Why We Have It

As a vital component of undergraduate education at Virginia Tech, the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE)--required of all undergraduates--empowers our students with a broad base of knowledge and transferable skills. Liberal Education provides students the opportunity for rigorous intellectual encounters with enduring human challenges and important contemporary problems, through wide-ranging exposure to multiple disciplines and ways of knowing.

Through the study of the Sciences, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Histories, Languages and the Arts, the CLE is designed to foster and develop intellectual curiosity and critical thinking; strong analytic, communication, quantitative, and information literacy skills; the capacity for collaboration and creative problem solving; the ability to synthesize and transfer knowledge; intercultural knowledge and understanding; and ethical reasoning and action. The CLE seeks to create the conditions for growing creative and intellectual engagement; civic, personal, and social responsibility; and lifelong learning.

What Students Will Gain

A liberal education offers 21st century students the foundations of what they need to live and thrive as citizens in a globally engaged democracy, a knowledge-intensive economy, and a society where new ideas and understandings are essential to progress. The success of today’s college students in their communities, workplaces, and across their lifetimes depends upon a complex and transferable set of skills and capacities. In their lives and in their careers, our students must be prepared to grasp complex problems, develop a global perspective on the diversity of human experience and knowledge, respond to changing demands, and articulate innovative responses and solutions. Today’s students are very likely to change jobs and even careers several times over the course of their lives; and certainly, their roles and responsibilities in their families and communities will change and evolve over their lifetimes as well.

The breadth of a rigorous liberal education combined with the depth of specialized study in the student’s primary academic discipline(s)--and evidenced in a demonstrated capacity to adapt and transfer knowledge, skills, and responsibilities to new settings and questions--is essential to the education of the whole student and sets the stage for a lifetime of learning and growth.

Because the Curriculum for Liberal Education is a “living curriculum,” there will be some changes from year to year. Courses added to the CLE offerings are generally available to students immediately after being approved. Some requirements of the CLE are phased in over a multi-year period. Thus, it is essential that students continue to consult with their advisors.


Development of the CLE