At the heart of any educational system lies a critical question: What is the overall purpose of education and goals for student learning? How institutions of higher education answer this question has sparked tremendous debate and has shaped educational policy and curriculum at local, national, and international levels for centuries. The current tension in answering this question centers around two competing philosophies: (1) liberal arts and (2) vocationalism. These philosophies are influenced not only by curricular choices but also by changing workforce demands, student populations, technologies, and social and political climates.

Vocationalism is an educational philosophy that states that the purpose of education is for a vocation, that is, the goal of education is to provide students with the necessary skills, knowledge, and expertise to ...

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