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ERIC Number: ED540339
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 48
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
The Vanishing West: 1964-2010--The Disappearance of Western Civilization from the American Undergraduate Curriculum
Ricketts, Glenn; Wood, Peter R.; Balch, Stephen H.; Thorne, Ashley
National Association of Scholars
"The Vanishing West" traces the decline and near extinction of the Western Civilization history survey course in America's top colleges and universities from 1964 to 2010. This course, covering classical antiquity to the present, was once part of the undergraduate curriculum's intellectual bedrock, not only because it was often a graduation requirement, but because it gave narrative coherence to everything else the university taught. In studying the rise of the West, students came to grips with how the arts and sciences encountered in other classes had been shaped. And because Western Civilization had "gone global," they also learned what made the world outside campus the place it had become. They usually finished with at least a partial recognition of their civilization as a grand monument to human achievement and something with which to identify. In 1964, the Western Civilization survey course in various guises, along with related courses such as Great Books surveys, were to be found at all the colleges and universities the authors surveyed. By 2010, the course had disappeared entirely as a requirement at these institutions and was available in some less emphasized form at less than a third of them. Reviving the Western Civilization survey in the form that served earlier generations probably is neither feasible nor desirable. Historical scholarship, including knowledge of the West's interactions with other civilizations and cultures, has progressed. An up-to-date survey would have to take account of this new scholarship. But a historical overview of the Western ascent toward freedom, scientific and technology mastery, and world power, is no less essential to the current generation than it was to those past. "The Vanishing West" invites a new dialogue on how best to resume the work of teaching a rounded overview of civilization to young men and women on whom the responsibility will fall to maintain and improve it. The authors offer twenty-three recommendations aimed at better studying the problem, rebuilding the curriculum, and repairing the graduate education pipeline, so that the history profession will again begin to prepare faculty capable of, and interested in, teaching about the broad course of Western history. Appended are: (1) Syllabus of a Western Civilization Course Offered in Spring 2011; and (2) Tables. (Contains 4 tables, 4 figures and 20 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Association of Scholars (NAS)