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ERIC Number: ED535786
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Apr
Pages: 46
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
The Hollow Core: Failure of the General Education Curriculum. A Fifty College Study
Latzer, Barry
American Council of Trustees and Alumni
This report provides empirical proof of a disturbing trend in higher education. Over the last several decades colleges and universities have substituted so-called "distribution requirements" for a solid core curriculum. Distribution requirements enable students freely to choose their general education courses, the courses outside their specialization. A core curriculum, by contrast, limits the general education options to a small number of select offerings designed to provide a broad foundation in the arts and sciences--the mark of an educated person. "The Hollow Core," based on a 50-college study by ACTA senior consultant Barry Latzer, proves that even the most prestigious higher education institutions--the Ivy League, the Seven Sisters, and some of the leading state universities--are no longer requiring those subjects that every educated man and woman ought to be studying: composition, U.S. government or American history, economics, foreign language, literature, mathematics and natural or physical science. The assigned "grades" for each college--based on the number of core subjects required--provide a handy way of comparing general education programs. The overall results of this investigation are alarming, and will, the author hopes, trigger a long-overdue reexamination of general education in the United States. Nearly half of the surveyed institutions require two or fewer core subjects out of the seven. Indeed, 24 percent of the colleges received an F for requiring only one course or none at all. These include such well-known schools as Colgate, Cornell, Penn State, Vassar and the University of Wisconsin. Appended are: (1) Identifying Core Courses; (2) The Big Ten; (3) The Big Eight; (4) The Ivy League; (5) The Seven Sisters; and (6) Additional Colleges and Universities. (Contains 7 tables.) [Funding for this paper was provided by the William and Karen Tell Foundation.]
American Council of Trustees and Alumni. 1726 M Street NW Suite 802, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 888-258-6648; Tel: 202-467-6787; Fax: 202-467-6784; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Council of Trustees and Alumni