ERIC Number: ED247880
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1984-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
To Reclaim a Legacy: A Report on the Humanities in Higher Education.
Bennett, William J.
Teaching and learning of the humanities at the baccalaureate level were assessed by a blue-ribbon study group of 31 nationally prominent authorities on higher education convened by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some attention was also given in the context of the humanities to how secondary and graduate education have affected under-graduate education and been affected by it. Answers were sought to three basic questions: (1) What is the condition of learning in the humanities? (2) Why is it as it is? (3) What, if anything, should be done about it? The five sections of the report cover the following topics: (1) Why study the humanities? (2) How should the humanities be taught and learned? (3) How well are the humanities being taught and learned? (4) The role of academic officials in strengthening the place of the humanities; (5) How colleges and universities might do a better job in transmitting the accumulated wisdom of our civilization. Four kinds of information aided discussion: (1) Descriptions of graduation requirements at 15 representative colleges and universities; (2) Reports by study group members on the humanities in secondary education, two year colleges, and graduate schools; (3) Papers by study group members recommending ways to improve teaching and learning in the humanities; (4) Data from several national studies and surveys pertaining to undergraduate education and to the humanities in general. It is noted that over the past 20 years, the place of the humanities in the U.S. undergraduate curriculum has eroded and the overall coherence of the humanities curriculum has declined. To reverse the decline, the report recommends the following: (1) The undergraduate curriculum should be reshaped based on a clear vision of what constitutes an educated person, regardless of major; (2) Academic officials must make plain what their institutions stand for and what knowledge is regarded as essential to a good education; (3) Faculties must put aside narrow departmentalism and work to shape a challenging common curriculum with a core of studies in history, philosophy, languages, and literature; (4) Excellent teaching should be rewarded through decisions in hiring, promotion, and tenure; (5) The humanities and the study of Western civilization should be placed at the core of the college curriculum, intended for all students and not just for humanities majors. The report closes by identifying a set of specific questions that should be addressed by college presidents, humanities faculty, humanities departments, and the acacemic community in general. (SW/WTB)
Descriptors: Academic Education, Change Strategies, College Curriculum, College Instruction, College Presidents, Departments, Educational Assessment, Educational Change, Educational Objectives, Educational Quality, Graduate Study, Graduation Requirements, Higher Education, Humanities Instruction, Instructional Improvement, Leadership, Secondary Education, Undergraduate Study
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Endowment for the Humanities (NFAH), Washington, DC.