Now that LA Gateway-designated courses are appearing in the course schedule, people are asking: What is the LA Gateway? Here’s the philosophical framework, distilled.

The Liberal Arts Gateway


The Liberal Arts can save civilization by equipping students to thrive in a pluralistic society through deep engagement in our disciplines.

Guiding Values

  • Student centered course designs
  • Equity and inclusion build into all facets of the course, from recruitment to materials and assignments and beyond
  • Responsiveness to downpath stakeholders: What needs will our students face in next course, the degree plan, transfer institution/employer, career, family, community, and ultimately, The Good Life? Have those needs in mind when you build your course.

Five P’s of Intellectual Character 

Build opportunities to practice these verbs into your course, talk about them explicitly, and model them every class period.

  • Persevere: Don’t give up — in this assignment, in this course, in a conversation, in a line of inquiry, in the pursuit of truth, or in the work of saving civilization.
  • Progress: Learn how to gauge progress for yourself — benchmarks, indicators, self-reflection, honesty (with yourself, above all). We stand on the shoulders of giants, but give yourself credit for climbing up there to have a look.
  • Produce meaningful intellectual work — and challenge yourself to do better work every next time.
  • Promote the fruits of your work to others — both as a courageous attempt to say something true and as an invitation to hear others critique your work.
  • Perpetuate these traits, deepen them into habits of mind, and expand them to encompass more and more of your intellectual life.

A few course design suggestions

  • Talk to your colleagues! This philosophical framework keeps us focused on student needs and the student experience, but saving civilization requires encountering the disciplinarity of our disciplines.
  • Organize your course around a theme and meaningful questions
  • Explicitly talk about a toolkit for your discipline
  • Use (real) case studies
  • Include at least one self-reflective assignment (a moment for students to step back and take stock of the transformative experience in your course)