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Why You Need a Liberal Arts Education

Bennet fondly reflects on his winter term math class that exemplified interdisciplinary learning.

Bennet fondly reflects on his winter term math class that exemplified interdisciplinary learning.

I’m so thankful for one of my winter term professors, Claudio. Why am I so appreciative of him? Taking his class, Calculus 2, reinforced my perspective about the value of a liberal arts education. In fact, his class prompted me to find a connection between my interest in animated films and my prospective major, Computer Science.

Calculus 2

The course structure was demanding. It consisted of pre-class readings, weekly homework assignments, three exams, and a final project. A perfect example of a liberal arts education, it was not your typical math class where I learned dy/dx every day. Instead, it was a forum in which I learned math concepts from a practical standpoint and connected them to other disciplines.

Here’s the Center for Math and Computing, where my calculus class took place.

Pre-class readings & journals

Our readings guided our discussions about the application of math concepts. In conjunction with these readings, we submitted a journal every week. Each journal consisted of a reflection and written analysis on a range of topics. Writing these journals helped me find ways to connect math concepts and different subject areas. For instance, I learned about British colonialism, tailoring, settlement geography, education systems, and applications of computer vision in a Calculus class. I also investigated how mathematical concepts of integration, differentiation, fractal geometry, Lagrange multipliers, etc., are observed and applied in everyday life.

Completing my final project

The final project required a lot of research. Claudio assisted me in finding sources to use for my project. He recommended that I look at the applications of Large Scale Computer Vision Datasets (LSVDs). In my research. I learned about the inaccuracies of the software training with LSVDs. In addition, I examined their influence on the misrepresentation of people on Google searches.

The upshot is that my research topic deepened my interest in graphic images! Throughout the class, I thought about ways to apply what I learned in my future animation and programming projects. Now, I am considering a second major in Cinema and Media Studies, to master using graphic design tools to create animated films.

Image from my final project, showing how software is trained to analyze images using the math concept of convolution

Final thoughts

Thus, a liberal arts education can introduce you to new opportunities and fields that might pique your interest. From my experience, it is a great idea to explore new subjects and classes! Whether you already know what you want to study or are still figuring things out, Carleton will push you outside your comfort zone and make you a more open minded, critical thinker and learner.

Ben is a freshman from Bamenda, Cameroon, who is eager to experience snow for the first time. Aside from an interest in Computer Science, he is excited to explore Cinema and Media StudiesEconomicsStudio ArtCognitive Science, and Mathematics. At Carleton, he wants to participate in a few clubs and other campus activities, while keeping an academic-social balance. In his free time, Ben enjoys watching anime and random TikTok videos, listening to music, and hanging out with friends. Meet the other bloggers!