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The Liberal Arts and Sciences Education and Core Texts in the European Context Conference will be taking place at Amsterdam University College from Friday, 11 September to Saturday, 12 September 2015.

Detail Summary
Start date 11 September 2015
End date 12 September 2015
Conference - The School of Athens
Raphael, The School of Athens

Conference Description and Programme

Over the last century, European universities have evolved to become advanced research institutions, mainly offering academic training in specialized disciplines. The Bologna process that started in the late nineties encouraged European institutions of higher education to broaden their curricula and to commit to undergraduate education with increased vigor. One of the results of this development is that Europe is currently witnessing a proliferation of Liberal Arts and Sciences colleges and broad bachelor degrees. 

Within this approach to undergraduate education, courses that involve core texts – i.e. classic texts from philosophical, historical, literary or cultural traditions – are gaining significance. Core texts, involving “the best that has been written” meet the challenges of modern higher education in a unique way. They not only develop the student’s philosophical, analytical, literary, and general reading skills, but they also suspend the concerns of the moment while opening up new normative, literary, psychological, philosophical, or political horizons. Core texts have the potential to draw students out of their intellectual comfort zone, challenging their own beliefs and opinions. As such, these texts constitute an important part of a genuinely liberal education. 

Examining core texts in the European context  

The conference means to bring people together who use core texts in one way or another in their courses, preferably in a liberal arts and sciences, broad bachelor, or comprehensive studies environment. A core text in this sense is any text that has stood or is likely to stand the test of time, from Plato to Derrida, from Homer to Dostoyevsky, from Augustine to Gandhi. The conference defines core texts in an inclusive way as any classic text that provides the foundation for a shared discourse whether from the Western or non-Western tradition, from ancient to (post-)modern time periods, and embedded in the humanities - philosophy, literature, history, and the arts – the social sciences – politics, anthropology, sociology, economics, and law – or the natural sciences – biology, physics, mathematics, etc. The conference invites reflection on questions about the meaning of a well-rounded liberal education, the role and meaning of core texts in European higher education, pedagogical aims, teaching pedagogies, assessment techniques, the selection of texts, core texts and big questions, and so forth. 

In line with the focus of the conference, we are especially keen to receive paper proposals that address one of the above questions and that include the discussion of a core text in the philosophical, literary, historical, or cultural tradition. Papers are required to be short (seminar style essay, approximately 5 pages double spaced). The usual presentation time allotted to each paper is 12-15 minutes. Panels should be designed to encourage lively liberal arts and sciences discussions, not only about teaching and skills but also about the content of the liberal arts and the liberal sciences. 

Liberal Arts and Sciences Conference 2015,AUC Liberal Arts and Sciences Conference 2015


The deadline for paper proposals and / or panel proposals is Saturday, 9 May 2015 (midnight). Please note that this is a later deadline compared to the one that has circulated in earlier calls. Proposals are submitted by sending the following information to

  • Your name, affiliation and e-mail address
  • A title for the paper(s)
  • An abstract for the paper (max. 500 words)
  • For panel proposals only: a title for and description of the panel theme (max. 250 words)

You will be notified whether your proposal can be accommodated before the end of May 2015. For questions or further information about the conference, please contact or a member of the organizing committee.

 Keynote speakers (confirmed):

  • Roosevelt Montás, Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum, Columbia University
  • Thomas Rommel, Rector and Provost Bard College Berlin
  • Tom Stapleford, Program of Liberal Studies, University of Notre Dame
  • Nigel Tubbs, Program Leader for Modern Liberal Arts, University of Winchester
  • Christopher B. Nelson, President of St. John’s College, Annapolis MD (plenary panel)

Organizing committee:

  • Emma Cohen de Lara, Lecturer Political Theory, Amsterdam University College
  • Claudia Heuer, Lecturer Modernist Literature, Leuphana University Lüneburg
  • Rebekah Howes, Senior Lecturer in Modern Liberal Arts, University of Winchester
  • Deirdre Klein-Bog, Head of Studies Academic Core, Amsterdam University College
  • José M. Torralba, Director of the Institute for Anthropology and Ethics, Universidad de Navarra
  • Nicole Brusa, Student Intern, Amsterdam University College


Amsterdam University College
Science Park 113
1098 XG Amsterdam
The Netherlands