The Utah state legislature is about to consider a bill that would transform public higher education, beginning at the University of Utah, and quite possibly spreading from there across the country. The bill, S.B. 226, would restore the kind of Great Books curriculum centered on Western civilization, American history, and civics that was central to American higher education until the past few decades.
Should S.B. 226 become law, Utah will surely be regarded as a national model. And as we’ll see, Utah is more than up to the challenge. (I co-authored the model General Education Act that inspired S.B. 226 along with Jenna Robinson of the Martin Center for Academic Renewal and David Randall of the National Association of Scholars.)
The new bill, S.B. 226, is called the “School of General Education Act” because it establishes an independent school of general education charged with designing and teaching a set of courses that all students must take in order to graduate. Instead of the usual smorgasbord of hundreds of hyper-specialized courses that students choose from in order to fulfill their general-education requirements, UU students will take classes that cover the basics of Western and American history — and that introduce them to non-Western cultures as well. Students won’t have more required courses than students at other schools. But courses that satisfy requirements will be fewer in number and taken in common.
All students will read Homer, ancient Greek philosophy, Greek tragedy, and substantial selections from the Old and New Testaments. Students will encounter the Renaissance, the Reformation, parliamentary democracy in Britain, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the rise and fall of the Soviet state and Nazi Germany, not to mention similarly broad survey courses on American history, civics, literature, and much else besides.
The post Utah Offers Useful Idea for Saving American Universities first appeared on John Locke Foundation.
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Author: Mitch Kokai
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