Measuring Liberal Arts:
Creating an Index for Higher Education

The Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory & Empirics, Columbia University proposes to conduct preliminary research for a multi-dimensional measure of the degree to which American colleges and universities offer a liberal arts education, a measure we call “LAE-ness.” In this study, we will develop conceptual elements of a liberal arts education and identify empirical characteristics of schools that measure these elements. In doing so, we will assess the degree to which such characteristics are comparable across schools and the extent to which relevant data is available across institutions. We also hope to begin assessing how temporally stable are our measures for schools and for student experiences. This is critical for being able to infer LAE-ness for student cohorts graduating at different times over the past two decades. We expect to make progress on these goals by innovatively collecting and analyzing institutional and experiential data from a sample of higher education schools.

Project Team

Peter Bearman, Co-Principal Investigator
William McAllister, Co-Principal Investigator

Audrey Augenbraum
Michael Falco
Gabriel Varela
Charlotte Wang

Contact

Audrey Augenbraum, aa2813@columbia.edu