The European Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ECOLAS) consortium is an advisory non-governmental organization that deals with the development of new forms of education in 21st century Europe in the context of the Liberal Arts and Sciences tradition. Its founders are three experienced scientists and educators: Samuel Abraham (Bratislava International School for Liberal Arts, Slovakia), Hans P.M. Adriaenssens (founder and dean of University College Roosevelt, The Netherlands) and Laurent Boetsch (President Emeritus of ECLA, Berlin). The group was conceived as the first European network to implement and promote undergraduate Liberal Arts and Sciences as an expression of the Bologna reform of European higher education.
ECOLAS places emphasis on improving the quality of undergraduate studies understood both as independent preparation for work and an introduction to more advanced studies at the master's level. By promoting the Liberal Arts and Sciences tradition, ECOLAS strives to develop programs that, in addition to providing specialist knowledge in specific disciplines, necessary for their subsequent specialization, also allow students to acquire leadership skills that are necessary not only in the global job market but also for fulfilling civic obligations in an increasingly diverse European Union.
University College Freiburg (UCF) functions since 2012 at the University of Freiburg. The college is situated in the historic buildings of the Alte Universität. It was here that, in the beginnings of the university's existence, students learned artes liberales, the basis of university education. Today, the Alte Universität is the place of exciting new research in higher education.
UCF's mission focuses on interdisciplinarity, internationalization and didactic and methodological innovations.
UCF offers a four-year bachelor's program (taught in English) in Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS). The program provides a broad interdisciplinary education while ensuring the possibility of pursuing individual interests and a high level of general academic competence. As a specialization, students choose one of the four paths: Culture and History, Politics and Governance, Life Sciences, and Environmental Sciences. Currently, 300 people study at UCF. It is the first program of its kind in Germany.
Amsterdam University College (AUC) began to function in 2009 as the fruit of a collaboration between two of Amsterdam's largest universities: the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The program emphasises excellence, preparation to excel in the knowledge-driven and innovation-driven economy of the 21st century and to live in a diverse and internationally connected society.
AUC has about 800 students. Almost half of them come from abroad. The studies consist of Academic Core and Major in the humanities, science or social sciences. Interestingly, again, nearly half of the students choose science. The program lasts three years.
Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA), founded in 2006, is the very first liberal arts college in Central Europe. BISLA seeks to provide its students with an excellent education that will become the basis for their professional career, personal well-being, as well as their awareness of the moral values and ethical standards that are the precondition for becoming a responsible citizen of their community, be it local or global. BISLA follows the tradition of liberal arts and sciences which, the founders believe, is the best way to provide an appropriate education and teach each student the intellectual skills necessary to become a creative and critical thinking person in the 21st-century knowledge economy and to engage meaningfully in today’s culturally and politically diverse world.
Duration of the program is three years. Studies in BISLA are heavily focused on political issues - apart from taking multiple interdisciplinary/general classes and and having a major in political science, students can choose their minors from the following: international relations, Central Europe Area studies, political thought.