The Libertas Scholars Program directs students who have a passion for the liberal arts (history, English, language, art, and economics) to embark on a course of study focused on the humanities. Students successfully completing the Libertas Program will graduate as Distinguished Libertas Scholars.
The program is directed by Mr. Bruce Rottman, a master educator who has taught humanities, history, American government, and economics classes to students in Christian and independent college preparatory high schools since 1980. He was the recipient of the NASDAQ Award presented to the top five economic educators in the nation (2000) and was twice the recipient of awards presented by the Wisconsin Council on Economic Education. Mr. Rottman lectures for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and Young America’s Foundation (YAF). He holds a master’s degree in international relations from San Francisco State University and a bachelor’s degree in history and a secondary education teaching credential from Calvin College. He joined the Providence faculty in 2009.
The Libertas Scholars Program seeks to graduate students who make choices informed by classical ideals of freedom and the Christian faith and thereby have a transformational impact upon society.
Upon successful completion of the Libertas Scholars Program, students will emerge as free and responsible people, grounded in Truth, ready to think, speak, and write not only clearly, but wisely.
Why Libertas? Humanities and the Liberal Arts
In classical Greece, where all free people were expected to participate in civic life, citizens embarked on a course of study that we have come to understand as the “liberal arts.” Liberal comes from the Latin root word liber, or free, and classically, the liberal arts referenced subjects and skills that were essential for free citizens to participate actively in their culture.
As this concept of liberty and the liberal arts evolved through the Middle Ages, it was influenced by the medieval church, and scholars developed the concept of the trivium. The trivium includes the “verbal” arts: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Scholars wisely thought that each subject has a factual structure or grammar that has to be understood before its logic can be applied, which gives meaning to the subject. They believed that only after mastering a subject’s grammar and logic can we eloquently explain, question, and defend an idea.
The Romans not only saw libertas as the word meaning freedom, but also personified as the goddess of liberty. The Founders of the United States embraced this ideal, demonstrated by the female representation of liberty appearing on every coin minted well into the 20th century. The prevailing ethos of the early American republic was: a free people needs certain tools to preserve and enlarge their freedom, including a deep awareness of western history, philosophy, literature, art, languages, the ideas of political economy, and skills in writing and public speaking, so that ideas could be ably communicated to others.
As progressivism made inroads into schools in the 19th and 20th centuries, this idea of a well-rounded student trained in the classics began to fade away. Education became more utilitarian with an emphasis on vocational training for a job. Regardless of the shift in education, the core of the humanities has endured, especially in private high schools and colleges, including Providence. The liberal arts make students more reflective and aware of their own presuppositions and help them to become more creative problem solvers. When liberally-trained students confront the world, an awareness of their history informs their choices: they are not only aware of whose giant shoulders they are standing on, they know which giants to approach.
At Providence, we proudly embrace this broad spirit of the humanities as integral to developing free citizens. We recognize that we cannot merely teach or preach “desired outcomes” to students. We need to give students familiarity with the classics, critical thinking skills to understand and, when necessary, critique the world, and rhetorical skills to communicate well. Our vision: graduates who, educated in the Christian faith but living in a largely secular society, make informed choices and have a transformational impact upon society.
The Providence Libertas Scholars program, therefore, taps into our general focus on the liberal arts and expands it for students who are interested in the humanities, prodding them into a deeper and directed emphasis on topics that the faculty deem important and that interest each student. As they engage in seminars beyond the walls of Providence, read widely under the direction of Providence faculty, and hone a humanities-based Senior Thesis Project over several years, students emerge as free and responsible people, grounded in Truth, ready to think, speak, and write not only clearly, but wisely.
1. An emphasis on humanities, language, art, theology, and/or economics
2. Students may apply after successful completion of their freshman year
3. Course selections:
a. Honors Humanities I (encouraged) and Honors Humanities II and III (required).
b. Three AP or Dual Credit courses. Students may enroll in AP Spanish, AP Art, AP/Dual Credit Microeconomics, AP/Dual Credit English Literature; they may also, via independent study with Providence faculty or via online courses, enroll in AP English Language, AP US history, AP European history, AP Macroeconomics, AP US Government, and AP Geography.
4. Students must maintain a 3.5 GPA in the above courses and a 3.0 GPA or higher in their overall unweighted grade.
5. Libertas Scholars will also:
a. Participate in a minimum of two seminars approved by the director during their four years at Providence. Possible seminars include, but are not limited to: Foundation for Economic Education summer seminar, Young Americans for Freedom weekend or summer seminar, Institute for Humane Studies Seminar, and Independent Institute Seminar.
b. Undertake an independent summer reading program after their freshman, sophomore, and junior years, guided by the Libertas Director and individual faculty member(s). This will involve readings chosen by both the student (beginning the process of their Senior Thesis Project) and faculty members.
6. Contribute to a written online blog that we will develop as the program matures, and/or other activities as developed by the director(s).
7. Libertas Scholars’ Senior Thesis Projects will incorporate humanities-based research.
How to Apply
Interested students will be asked to submit an application, which will be reviewed by the program director to ensure suitability for the type of work required. Each student’s abilities, interests, and experiences will be carefully considered. Students entering the freshman and sophomore years are allowed to apply.
All questions or comments may be directed to Mr. Rottman, either in person or at firstname.lastname@example.org.