Liberal education is under severe attack from critics who assert that it does not provide adequate preparation for contemporary life. To address these concerns I propose new approaches to liberal learning based on two principles: (1) We should teach students how to transform thinking into effective action and (2) The ability to connect thought to action can be achieved by intentionally developing human capacities for abstract thinking, self-direction, social interaction, and language. The article begins with a description of the criticisms of liberal learning, and a brief analysis of the origins of liberal education, including the assertion that liberal learning has always combined thinking skills with civic responsibility. This is followed by arguments that abstract thinking, self-direction, social interaction, and language are part of human nature and that their development can be a foundation for liberal education. A framework for enhancing these qualities is then described, including the infusion of connection-making within and across courses, inclusion of courses where students address large-scale issues, advising that stresses individual decision-making, and opportunities for public presentation of ideas and internships. These activities can strengthen the ability to engage in high-level thinking and connect thinking with decision-making and action.

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