Do you have a set of must reads which you believe should lie at the foundation/base of a college education (i.e., American college education), no matter the institution, e.g., Christian college/university, community college, engineering/tech school (e.g., Carnegie Mellon University or MIT), Ivy League, liberal arts college, state university? If so, what are they and why? Below’s a recent email from a faculty friend regarding his alma mater, Harvard.
it’s sad but the harvard faculty could never approve anything like the “great books” program…they could never have a coherent view of what education is about, now that the “veritas” of the old harvard has been removed…a cafeteria approach is all that could reach a consenus in the recent revision of the general education requirements…they couldn’t agree or approve the wonderful suggestion of requiring one course in “faith and reason” (broad guidelines, could even be taught by an atheist)…but too many faculty fussed and worried about any courses that involved that sloppy, unscientific thing called “faith”…St. Johns is one school that does have a “great books” program as the foundation of their liberal arts curriculum…and another school “st. thomas aquinas” (i think that’s the name) also has a similar curriculum…and the conservative “hillsdale college ” in michigan has a coherent liberal arts foundation (freshman take either greek or latin)…. [Follow-up email] … columbia university’s substantial, coherent core curriculum…harvard faculty would never approve this old-fashioned approach…consensus is impossible with them… http://www.college.columbia.edu/core
1. the loss of general education requirements, in particular the capstone course which was intended to teach students how to use their college education to live a good and an ethical life, both as individuals and as members of society and 2. the purchasing of goods such as classes and degrees. … Now students are required to make choices about education that may affect them the rest of their lives. And they are forced to make these choices at a point in their intellectual development when they may lack the resources to make them intelligently.
Upon reflection, my education at Grove City College (1992-1996) began with a class to set the tone for college education but lacked a capstone course. Furthermore, the core curriculum sought to teach values over the course of several years (6 classes, 1 per term for the first three years) drawing from compilations of readings and Building a Christian Worldview (W. Andrew Hoffecker, editor, P&R Publishing, 1986. Note: written by a cross-disciplinary faculty team from the college). Although there was not a focus upon the great books providing the core of College Education, the Good Book (i.e., the Bible) was given significant attention in all the classes (Note: One of the core classes was a Bible overview).
Back to the question, do you have a set of must reads which you believe should lie at the foundation/base of a general college education (in the United States of America)?
And I guess that I have raised a second question, if must reads are not the center of a core curriculum are there certain principles at the foundation/base of a general college education (in the United States of America)? Or is a core curriculum only possible in unique educational settings and the ability to assume a college graduate has read or considered certain materials a thing of the past (or possibly one that was only fulfilled in an ideal, distant past)?
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!