NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED498952
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jul
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Back from the Brink: Harvard Gets it Right. Carnegie Perspectives
Ehrlich, Tom
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Eighteen months after soundly criticizing a new Harvard general education that proposed to abandon the concept of a structured general education, substituting a minimum distribution requirement under which students could choose a few courses from hundreds offered by the faculty, the writer applauds the shift, encouraged by interim president Derek Bok, to a plan that articulates four goals of general education: (1) Equipping students for participation in civic life; (2) Teaching students to understand themselves in terms of traditions of art, ideas and values; (3) Preparing students to grapple with change; and (4) Developing "students' understanding of the ethical dimensions of what they say and do." To meet those goals, students must take at least one course in each of eight subject areas: (1) Aesthetic and interpretive understanding; (2) Culture and belief; (3) Empirical and mathematical reasoning; (4) Ethical reasoning; (5) Science of living systems; (6) Science of the physical universe; (7) Societies of the world; and (8) The United States in the world. All eight areas are defined in terms of criteria that must be met in order for courses to qualify for general-education credit. A second group of proposals was developed to promote the status and quality of teaching at Harvard, while a third focused on improving science teaching for undergraduates. While noting that much will depend on implantation of the new proposals, Ehrlich concludes with encouragement that the change in course reaffirms general education as the foundation of a liberal education, and also speaks to the importance of leadership in higher education, a leadership that does not mean giving orders, but rather persuades by example. [For original article, see ED498950.]
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 51 Vista Lane, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-566-5102; Fax: 650-326-0278; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, CA.