Designing a financial literacy course for a liberal arts curriculum


The broad objectives of liberal education include the instilling of a sense of responsible citizenship along with knowledge that creates a better society. Although financial literacy is required at both the individual and public levels for an improved societal outcome to ensue, it is rare to find a finance‐related course within the general education curriculum of most universities. Liberal arts administrators and faculty are reluctant to include finance‐related courses because they are not perceived to be sufficiently broad in scope. The argument is accurate for a typical personal finance course. However, the purpose of this article is to show that it is possible to construct a financial literacy course with design features that make it acceptable for inclusion in the general education curriculum of a liberal arts university. First, the objectives of liberal education are highlighted, as enumerated by three independent organizations [American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE), Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Annapolis Group]. Next, the assessment standards of the AALE are utilized to develop the pedagogical features of the course design. A liberal arts focus can be achieved by including topical readings, in‐class discussions or debates and a research paper that highlights the societal impacts of financial decisions. Finally, it is illustrated how the design features allow the course to fulfil the assessment standards of liberal arts objectives including effective reasoning, broad and deep learning and the inclination to inquire.

Document Type





liberal arts universities, general education curriculum, financial literacy course, pedagogical design

Publication Date


Journal Title

International Journal of Consumer Studies