Following years of dialogue utilizing assessment data and insights about educational best practices, the faculty implemented this new Augustana General Education Studies (AGES) program in 2004-05. In the introductory note to the First Year Reader for AGES, Professor Thomas Banks of the Classics department traces the evolution of concept of artes liberales, studies that civilizations have deemed essential to happiness based on freedom of mind, body and spirit, and describes the AGES program in terms of our understanding of this concept:
"... At Augustana today, our enactment of the liberal arts is the curriculum called Augustana General Education Studies (AGES). Crucially, this begins with the courses we call Liberal Studies. These are introductions to the fundamental questions of the liberal arts. As such, they are the basis for deeper happiness, whether sought in citizenship, private life, or vocation. They are in effect — let us be emphatic here — the roots of any major field of study: not preliminary to the major, not in addition to the major, but where a major itself begins. AGES continues with the Learning Perspectives and Learning Communities. The Learning Perspectives are the modern enactment of the Trivium (the written word, the spoken word and logic) and Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music) . They are the ways of inquiring into answers to serious questions. But the power of these ways, these perspectives, is weakened if isolated. The liberal arts are parts of a whole. Therefore the third component of AGES, the Learning Community, shows how to integrate learning from more than one perspective. Knowing the questions, knowing how to research and formulate answers, and knowing how to do this in a collaboration both of methods and of colleagues will be the means to achieve that deepest happiness — within self, society, and cosmos."
(italicised parentheses added).