About the College of Liberal Arts
The Cornerstone of the University
The College of Liberal Arts traces its origins to the beginnings of Mercer Institute, a manual labor school for young boys, in Penfield, Georgia, in 1833. When the school was reorganized in 1838 as Mercer University, the academic program that is now the College of Liberal Arts began with the offering of a baccalaureate degree. Since those early years, the College has developed and maintained a strong liberal arts tradition as the central focus of its academic program.
The College offers bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in a wide range of undergraduate majors. Students also have the opportunity to develop individualized programs of study in consultation with their faculty advisor.
More than 90 percent of 115 faculty members hold terminal degrees in their fields, representing some of the top universities in the nation. The faculty members use their ongoing research to enrich the learning experience for students.
A Commitment to Service-learning
More than half of Mercer’s undergraduate students participate in community service, with many involved in service-learning courses several times during their Mercer studies. The tradition of service-learning in the College goes back more than 40 years. Recently, the University has received national recognition from Campus Compact (an organization of college presidents pledged to community service) and the Princeton Review.
The College is an active participant in a distinctive new force in American higher education that seeks to integrate liberal education with professional training within the context of a smaller, student-centered university. As a traditional liberal arts institution, the College retains the emphases on teaching, individual instruction, and study solidly grounded in the liberal arts. As the core of a comprehensive university, it has particular concern for the ways in which the liberal arts can serve as the foundation of more specialized studies and can connect these to one another.
The College has a strong commitment to freedom of inquiry and teaching grounded in its principles as a Baptist institution, a concern to maintain high academic standards and rigor, and a regard for the development of character in its students. The term “paideia” captures this regard for the education of individuals for responsible citizenship and virtuous lives.
Integrative programs have long been pivotal in the life of the College. They have functioned as sources of innovation in programs and teaching, and as means of providing students with educational opportunities that uniquely reflect the concerns, imagination, and vigor of the College. Among these efforts are three integrative seminars taken in the freshman, sophomore, and junior years. The Great Books Program is a unique alternative general education track. Women’s and Gender Studies, African-American Studies, Environmental Science, Southern Studies and widespread opportunities to create individual majors and pursue undergraduate research collaboratively with faculty members also distinguish the College as a special learning place.
Finally, we add to a sound general education program grounded in the liberal arts, and to our distinctive interdisciplinary offerings, strong disciplinary majors and varied possibilities for campus and international study. These ensure that future generations of Mercerians will be truly prepared for global citizenship in the twenty-first century.