Letter: Liberal arts in Britain

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The Independent Online
As a graduate of one of the institutions described (Williams '86), I was delighted to come across Peter Smith's article ("Long live the liberal dinosaur", Education +, 17 April). Since arriving in the UK in December 1992 to take up a position as a research fellow, I have been frustrated by the lack of knowledge about or appreciation for the liberal arts system. In spite of my best efforts, I fear that my British friends and colleagues are still mystified by the fact that I arrived at university without any declared major and "wasted" my time there studying subjects of no obvious marketable value to a biologist. Equally puzzling, I suspect, is my decision to take up a teaching post at such an institution (Allegheny College) upon my return to the United States this summer.

I fear Dr Smith may face an uphill battle in his attempt to import ideas from a country more frequently associated with McDonald's and Baywatch, but I wish him every success!