Andrea Fritsche: Liberal Studies and Psychology

Alumna Focus

After graduation, Andrea spent a number of years in arts administration with the Nanaimo Art Gallery before moving to Tillicum House, the educational centre of the Nanaimo First Nation. In this position she is able to combine her psychological and educational training with the general attitudes to life which she feels Liberal Studies fostered:

“I completed my Liberal Studies Major, in combination with a Major in Psychology, in 2003. I entered the program after having completed Arts One – First Nation Studies partly as a quest to discover a new life path for myself and partly to revisit my own history. Being from Europe and having moved to Canada in 1991, I missed the culture and the opportunities to read and discuss literature and philosophy, which is the norm rather than the exception in many European societies.

“However, much more than providing great literature, stimulating seminars, and interesting and excellent lectures, the Liberal Studies program also taught me the art of writing critical and well-rounded papers. I am calling this an art as writing a good paper involves not just critical thought and interesting ideas, but also the ability to shape those thoughts in one’s mind and in written form. This ability has helped me many times in my second chosen field, psychology, where clarity of thought and the ability to analyze and extract the most important points from research articles for literature reviews are crucial. I can honestly say that I owe much of my ability to formulate and write good research papers in psychology to my education in Liberal Studies.

“As we explored many great thinkers of the Western culture, various scientific fields, and great music of the Western world we were encouraged to approach these with an open mind and the challenge to extract essence as it existed rather than solely as we perceived it. This process was facilitated by lectures and seminars which enhanced the experience and not only provided necessary education in those fields but also enabled us as students to challenge our own perceptions and ways of thinking. Buddhists teach that ceasing to think means ceasing to exist – taking Liberal Studies provides an avenue to enhance the critical thinking process within one’s education, and moreover beyond one’s career into life.

“I feel that completing at least one year of Liberal Studies should be required in order to complete any Bachelor degree. This kind of education provides students (and professionals) with necessary tools to inquire critically into their fields as well as enabling them to communicate efficiently with peers and with lay people. Furthermore, the expansions of thought and willingness to create thought and to experience life critically are essential to the formation of intellectually rounded individuals who, in turn, are essential to a society that wants to go beyond the mediocre.”

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