Education: A for Creativity; D-for Communication
By Carol Geary Schneider, president
of the Association of American Colleges & Universities
in Liberal Education
Summer 2001 Vol. 87, No. 3.
"The academy is reinventing
the practice of liberal education-but seems bent on ensuring
that no one else knows" writes AAC&U President Carol
Geary Schneider in a recent issue of Liberal Education.
Her message notes the perceived
status and stigma of liberal education today: some fear it
is vulnerable because it doesn't show immediate payoffs in
an age of market values.
AAC&U is witness, she writes,
to the "extraordinary work" being done to demonstrate
liberal education's resurgence. Innovations on hundreds of
campuses ensure that liberal education is vital and central
and demonstrate how faculty have rethought curriculum and
pedagogy. She cites the "Big Problems" courses at
the University of Chicago and the community-based collaborative
projects done by every senior at Portland State University
as examples. Contemporary undergraduates, she reports, are
learning how to put their knowledge at the service of society.
So why don't people know about this
phenomenon? Schneider believes that these changes are not
discussed as liberal education, either within or outside the
academy. An initial problem is the term "liberal education"
itself, in part because of the political connotation of the
term "liberal" as well liberal education's ties
to an earlier era when only a privileged few received a college
education. Programs have generic labels that belie their grounding
in a purposeful and contemporary liberal education. Students
rarely hear their professors describe their courses or progress
as examples of liberal education, although faculty report
frequent discussions among themselves about these issues.
AAC&U continues to work nationally
to be a voice and force for the value of liberal education.
Schneider believes, however, that well-planned alliances are
also essential in order to display the reinvigorated practices
for liberal education and the power they have for educating
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