Improving undergraduate education in Europe: liberal arts and science colleges

Brussels, 9 October 2014

Do you know what Liberal Arts are?

Originally from Europe, Liberal Arts education was based on the seven liberal arts – artes liberales – those focusing on language (grammar, rhetoric and logic) and those with mathematical elements (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and theory of music). The idea behind artes liberales was that education should, above all, lead to a well-rounded and – free - person. The seven liberal arts were the foundation for any further training and specialisation.

Nowadays, Liberal Arts Colleges are an integral and valued component of US higher education, but some time ago, Europe began to 're-import'  liberal arts and science education. 

To show what it looks like in practice, we have asked Dr Joachim Koops, Dean of Brussels-based Vesalius College to tell us more about the liberal arts aspect of teaching at Vesalius College.

Vesalius College was founded 26 years ago by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Boston University (BU). It represents ‘an education marriage’ between the European and the American system, and was created with the aim to bring to the centre of Europe an international faculty offering the best of two different educational traditions: the Anglo-Saxon teaching system and the Franco-Germanic approach.



On 9 October ACA will host its 43rd European Policy Seminar, which will focus on Liberal Arts (and Sciences) education in Europe. It will provide an introduction into the philosophy and the main features of Liberal Arts education as well as present and analyse varied examples of successful Liberal Arts programmes in different European countries. Its aim is to also to clarify the concept of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the core idea behind such education. 

Stay tuned for more stories!


Still in the dark about Liberal Arts and Sciences education?

Question number one: Do you know what Liberal Arts are NOT about

Bernd Wächter, ACA Director, has a few thoughts on this to share with you.



Watch the Bernd Wächter on Liberal Arts series this week and give us your feedback at secretariat(at)

PART 2 of the Bernd Wächter on Liberal Arts series: A few words on what Liberal Arts education IS about.


Do you agree? Any other ideas on Liberal Arts education?

Send us your feedback at secretariat(at) or join us on 9 October 2014 at the 43rd ACA European Policy Seminar in Brussels!


Today’s question: Where does Liberal Arts education originate from?

Watch part 3 of the Bernd Wächter on Liberal Arts series: origins and re-import of Liberal Arts education


ACA looks forward to your feedback! secretariat(at)