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Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP)

Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) is a national advocacy, campus action, and research initiative that champions the importance of a twenty-first century liberal education—for individuals and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality.

LEAP responds to the changing demands of the twenty-first century—demands for more college-educated workers and more engaged and informed citizens.  Today, and in the years to come, college graduates need higher levels of learning and knowledge as well as strong intellectual and practical skills to navigate this more demanding environment successfully and responsibly.

Launched in 2005, LEAP challenges the traditional practice of providing liberal education to some students and narrow training to others.  Through LEAP, hundreds of campuses and several state systems are making far-reaching educational changes to help all their students—whatever their chosen major field of study—achieve a set of Essential Learning Outcomes fostered through a liberal education.

LEAP embraces a 21st-Century Definition of Liberal Education and promotes:

LEAP leaders also work to engage the public with core questions about what really matters in college and to connect employers and educators as they build new partnerships and make the case for the importance of liberal education in a global economy and in our diverse democracy.

For more information about the LEAP initiative, please see our "Introduction to LEAP" brochure.

See Slide Presentations on:

What's New From LEAP

AAC&U and WaCLA Co-Host Seattle Employer-Educator Forum with more than 200 Participants from across Washington State

AAC&U and the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) are co-hosting "Higher Education as Collaboration: Partnering for Work, Leadership, and Life" in Seattle on May 20. This forum is part of a series of similar programs being held across the country in 2014 as a way for higher education institutions to engage in purposeful dialogue with local and regional employer representatives and policy leaders about creating more intentional partnerships that give college students hands-on learning experiences that will be useful for their careers. The event builds on the 2013 release of AAC&U’s Employer-Educator Compact and a national survey of employers. See also AAC&U’s recent report on How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment. Also of note, The Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) recently announced the winners in its statewide essay contest on the value of a liberal arts education.

University of Wisconsin System Announces Liberal Arts Essay Competition Winners

The UW System has announced the winners of its ninth annual Liberal Arts Essay Scholarship Competition. The annual competition is part of the UW System’s LEAP initiative and has been sponsored for nine years. This year’s essay prompt invited students to reflect on their own education in the context of the William Cronon essay, “Only Connect,” about the qualities that distinguish a liberally educated person. The three contest winners will each receive a $2,000 scholarship to help fund the remainder of their undergraduate education. UW System President Ray Cross noted that, ““Every day I am in this position, I become more impressed with the quality of the students who attend our institutions, and there is no greater testimony to that quality than this year’s winning essays.” to read the winning essays, visit For more information, see the Wisconsin SAGLA Web page and AAC&U’s LEAP initiative web pages.

University of Wisconsin-Parkside Graduate Increases Awareness for LEAP Initiative

New Report on Liberal Arts Majors and Employment

With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, and the Teagle Foundation, AAC&U and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) have published a new report on earnings and long-term career paths for college graduates with different undergraduate majors. The report, How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment: A Report on Earnings and Long-Term Career Paths by Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly, provides answers to common questions posed by students, parents, and policy makers who are increasingly concerned about the value of college degrees.

See brochure with selected findings, “Liberal Arts Graduates and Employment: Setting the Record Straight


AAC&U's National Surveys of Employers

"It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success" (April, 2013)

LEAP Publications

The LEAP campaign includes three primary and concurrent strands of activity:

A Public Advocacy initiative for liberal education, which is being carried out nationally by the LEAP National Leadership Council and LEAP Presidents' Trust regionally through advocacy initiatives in a series of partner states;

A Campus Action Network which works with colleges and universities of every kind from across the country and in selected partner states to articulate high expectations for liberal education and to transparently connect their educational practices and assessments to these expectations;

A research initiative detailing Evidence on Learning Outcomes, designed to provide evidence on selected outcomes of a liberal education and periodic public reports on progress in helping students meet twenty-first century educational standards.

LEAP Staff Contacts at AAC&U

Coordinating Director: Bethany Zecher Sutton
LEAP States Initiative: Susan Albertine
Advocacy and Public Outreach: Debra Humphreys