Document Type



Confluence: The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies





First Page


Publication Date

Spring 2011


Humanities and Cultural Studies


Today higher liberal arts education is challenged by the continuing emphasis on vocational, business, and science majors among administrators and the decline in the demand for humanities majors among students anxious about their economic future. More fundamental and far-reaching, however, are the historic changes in the physical form in which ideas are preserved and communicated, the time people allocate to contemplating those ideas, and the ways people process them as society shifts from the book age into the digital age.1 Those who grew up in the book age can visualize the problem by thinking of this question: What is your first memory of reading, particularly away from the cares of the world, reading in a slow and transfixed way that transported you to another world, perhaps into and beyond the text itself, and back again? Now consider the possibility that digital natives, those who have grown up in the digital age, may not be able to answer that question since it may, in fact, be outside their experience. But deep reading, that is, reading that engages "the array of sophisticated processes that propel comprehension," is crucial for understanding the texts found in the liberal arts, and a decline in deep reading, brought on by technological change and now likely underway, threatens the future of liberal arts education.2

Publisher Statement

Originally published as: Stelmach, Harlan and Anderson, Martin. (2011). The Digital Mind and the Future of Liberal Arts Education. Confluence: The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies 16(2).