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COVID 19 and education: What difference do the liberal arts make?

Dr. David Holmes | 

Students at microscope

Following is a blog by Dr. David Holmes, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Lipscomb University.

I became the dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Lipscomb University on Jan. 2 of this year.

For several of the 25 years I taught at Pepperdine University prior to coming to Lipscomb, I heard pundits and parents question the value and relevance of a liberal arts education. These criticisms reverberate at this moment.

What difference can liberal arts make during this unprecedented global pandemic? 

Head shot of David Holmes

David Holmes

At their best, the liberal arts are about intellectual freedom. Creative, critical and collaborative inquiry. Consider a few ways that liberal arts inquiry is playing out during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Biology and chemistry enable us to study and likely find a cure for the disease.
  • Math provides critical numbers, statistics and data.
  • History contextualizes COVID-19 within the narrative of past pandemics.
  • Political science can explain the citizenship and civility needed to deliberate policy around this crisis.   
  • Philosophy can raise and examine moral, ethical and existential questions surrounding the disease.
  • Psychology models how to process trauma and empathize with each other.
  • Journalism and communication can model how to transmit information accurately and ethically.
  • Social work supports community institutions to better serve individuals in need.
  • Literature, poetry and essays capture our sorrows and triumphs in elevated, precise and persuasive language. 

The liberal arts were never meant to be confined to a classroom. The liberal arts are meant to be living arts, ways of knowing, doing and being that prepare students to lead, innovate and serve. This is why the liberal arts matter now and will always matter.

For more information about Lipscomb’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, visit