Chemistry as a Liberal Art



(1) Individuals are trained to recognize recurring elements and common themes.

(2) They are trained to see relationships between things that may seem different.

(3) They are trained to combine familiar elements into new form.

(4) They learn to arrange their thoughts in logical order, to write and speak clearly and economically.

(5) They learn to tolerate ambiguity and to bring order out of confusion.

(6) They are accustomed to a relatively unstructured and unsupervised research and discovery process and feel comfortable with nonconformity.

(7) They have insight into the fit of form with function.

(8) They have learned "sideways" thinking, the cross-classifying habit of the mind that comes from learning many different ways to look at things.

(9) They have learned to replace confrontation with cooperation and the principles of conflict resolution.

(10) They have learned the importance of intellectual integrity, social responsibility, and ethical commitment.

(11) They learn that the effective management of change comes from the habit of being receptive to new information, to new paths to traditional goals, even to new goals.

(12) They have learned to uncover truths in many forms, and that an answer need not be final.

(13) They need to see the worth of the impact of what they do, to understand its place in the larger schemes of things.

(14) They learn about the kinds of creativity that leads to visionary solutions.


Roger B. Smith
Chairman of General Motors Corporation
October 1985 at the University of Michigan.