Julia diLiberti believes people can learn as much from the arts as from the "hard" disciplines, such as science and engineering.
"I maintain that everything I know about politics and power I learned from Balzac, who captures aspects of the human spirit as well as any political scientist," explained diLiberti, who has a background in literature. "As I read more and decided to figure out why an author referenced this painting or that opera, I realized that I enjoy delving into the origins of culture and exploring the historical development of the arts that do so much to enrich our existence."
She brings that excitement of exploration to her Humanities students as well as a wealth of experience outside the classroom. For example, diLiberti spent a year in Benin, West Africa, working on education reforms and spending time with teachers in classrooms. She has served as assistant director of a women's shelter run through Family Shelter Services in DuPage County. And she taught at both Purdue University and Bradley University, all before coming to College of DuPage in 2003.
While admitting to once wanting to be the person to put English subtitles on French movies, she became hooked on teaching as a graduate student.
"I would have these great exchanges with students or see changes in them through the duration of the class," diLiberti said. "The opportunity to share knowledge and exchange ideas with a diverse student body is a job that is rarely duplicated in other settings."
Ideally, she wants her students to gain an understanding of and a curiosity for the subject matter and the relevance of arts to daily life.
"I sometimes ask students to imagine a society with no arts, and we speculate on how that society would look, evolve, survive," she said. "Ultimately, students conclude that the arts would be hard to suppress since they are so vital to the expression of who we are. So, I want them to just notice on a daily level how much the arts really do impact their lives.
"On a daily level, a great deal of inspiration comes from my colleagues, who talk about the ways they reach their students and prepare them for what's ahead. I've been known to steal a technique or two from colleagues, and I look to those with good relationships with their students to inspire my own teaching."