The Collegium Artes Liberales is a joint project of University of Warsaw, the Endeavor Foundation, New York (formerly Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation) and the “Artes Liberales Institute” Foundation. It was created by agreement among the founders signed on 10 December 2008.
The idea of the Collegium was adopted in the course of two-year consultations in Poland and internationally, involving representatives of prestigious US academic institutions (University of Chicago, Swarthmore College) and the authorities of the University of Warsaw. A conference summing up the first stage of the debate was held on 11–12 December 2006 (“A Liberal Arts College within a Large State Research University”) and was attended by representative of The Bates College, The Association of American Colleges and Universities, University of Warsaw Rector Prof. Katarzyna Chałasińska-Macukow and Vice-Rector for Student Affairs, Prof. Konstanty Adam Wojtaszczyk. The conference bore fruit with the document “Mission of the Collegium Artes Liberales”, which defined the principal task of the Collegium as supporting the idea of Artes Liberales Studies.
The Collegium is a unit of the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” due to the latter’s interdisciplinary nature.
Artes Liberales Studies at University of Warsaw
Artes Liberales Studies were launched by decisions of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 20 July 2007 and of 20 June 2008 as an autonomous program developed by Prof. Jerzy Axer (University of Warsaw Senate Resolution No. 211 of 23 May 2007). Initially, a confederation of the faculties in the College of Inter-faculty Individual Studies in the Humanities (MISH) was jointly responsible for Artes Liberales Studies.
Under Resolution No. 486 of 20 April 2016, the University of Warsaw Senate approved the learning outcomes for Artes Liberales Studies as a task implemented by the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” for both study levels (full-time first- and second-cycle general academic studies).
Pursuant to a decision of the University of Warsaw Senate, as of 1 October 2016 Artes Liberales Studies have been conducted exclusively by the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” (University of Warsaw Senate Resolution No. 8 of 28 September 2016), and within the Faculty – by the Collegium Artes Liberales.
The Role of the Collegium Artes Liberales as a designated platform for the Artes Liberales Studies
The idea of Artes Liberales Studies assumed the creation of model interdisciplinary studies at all three levels of education. Inspired by the American culture of liberal education, it was radically modified to include not only the first cycle of study, but also second-cycle studies, and even doctoral studies. Cooperation with the American partners was only a catalyst for change, invariably aiming at creating a model ingrained in the Polish and European academic tradition. The Memorandum of Understanding signed on 10 December 2016 between the University of Warsaw and Columbia University (New York) was a clear token of appreciation of our activities on the part of the US partners. In the Memorandum, currently the best US university expressed its intent to assume co-responsibility for the further development of the Collegium and Artes Liberales Studies.
At the start of academic year 2016/2017, the sole responsibility for Artes Liberales Studies was taken over by the University of Warsaw via the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”.
The inter-faculty studies within this program, considered a “flagship” of Polish academic culture, include classes from the Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. The first-cycle program includes interdisciplinary class modules, so-called study challenges. In the second-cycle program, the student combines all the three areas in differing proportions, depending on the chosen specialty.
The Collegium’s Council monitors the development of Artes Liberales Studies (in no way infringing the statutory powers of the Faculty Council). By law, the current Vice-Rector for Student Affairs is the Chairperson of the Council. The Council gathers representatives of the US partner (The Endeavor Foundation) and of the “Artes Liberales Institute” Foundation, the Collegium Director, and Dean of the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”.
Artes Liberales Studies, affiliated to the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, remains a university-wide laboratory. Its core personnel is made up of Faculty academics who change periodically in order to make the whole environment feel responsible for the program. In addition, there are academics interested in developing this idea from areas other than the Humanities.
In the academic year 2017/2018, Artes Liberales Studies have attracted 142 first-cycle students and 41 second-cycle students.
The growing impact of Artes Liberales Studies on the teaching process of the University of Warsaw is proven by the fact that classes within the program are attended not only by Artes Liberales students, but increasingly also by MISH students (in the academic year 2015/16 and 2016/2017 as many as 841 applications were received) and students of other faculties of the Humanities, Social Sciences and even of Exact and Natural Sciences (in the academic year 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 there were 1,586 applications).
In 2015, Artes Liberales Studies gave rise to a unique experimental program for inter-disciplinary doctoral studies. Known as “Nature–Culture”, it combines the Humanities with Natural Sciences.
Mission of the Collegium Artes Liberales
Taking into consideration the underlying objectives of our University as set forth by its Founders: “The University must not only perpetuate knowledge and skills in the nation on the level they have already reached in the learned world, but must also improve and promote them and apply their theory for the benefit of the general society”,
carrying out the Mission of University of Warsaw adopted by its Senate, stipulating that:
acting in the belief that:
– the University’s mission and objectives can only be achieved if it attracts the best candidates for studies and becomes an attractive workplace for the best academics, and if the teaching methods introduced enable mutual inspiration between professors and students, forcing both to make the highest intellectual effort and at the same time offering a sense of creating a true universitas studiorum,
– successful operation in a knowledge and information society and the ability to develop one’s individual interest and skills require extensive interdisciplinary preparation,
we establish the Collegium Artes Liberales at the University of Warsaw, whose task will be to educate university graduates who understand the social and institutional conditions of civic engagement, and at the same time can be informed and active participants of the world of culture, who can ask questions and put forward problems, who can provide judicious answers and know how to act upon them with others, who are able to reflect on the world and the human being, who can express their views and, while respecting and listening to the views of others, and who can defend their own views in public debate,
– which will offer a varied set of classes applying the Liberal Arts formula, developing the ability to think critically, analyze and understand texts read or statements heard, create written statements and present one’s own views during debates,
– which will make use of the experience of other countries, including the best American universities,
– which, by conducting classes in small groups, ensures regular contact between students and the professor and offers each participant an opportunity of active involvement in the classes,
– which will foster the emergence of a micro-community with a clear identity, with the participation of professors and other lecturers, which will foster civic attitudes both within the academic environment and outside the University, on the regional and national level.
The Collegium Artes Liberales will therefore be a response to the challenges faced by our University and at the same time a return to the roots of the university as an institution which is a community of teachers and students.