Liberal Education, Spring 2008

Current Issue


Science Education, Liberal Education

This issue explores undergraduate science education, including a look at curricular and pedagogical issues related to teaching non-majors and developments in the undergraduate STEM learning environment. Also included are articles on accountability and comparability, institutional change, and environmental history.

Table of Contents
President's Message
From 1818 R Street NW

By David Tritelli

Featured Topic

By James Trefil
What exactly constitutes good science education, and how can we recognize when our students have received it? Once we have answered this question, the answer to the “what” question—the actual content of the curriculum—is relatively easy to find.

By Jeanne Narum
Is it now possible to articulate a general set of goals for student learning in STEM fields on which local efforts can be built and against which they can be compared? And if so, what recommendations can be made for the next decade?

By Timothy J. Bralower, P. Geoffrey Feiss, and Cathryn A. Manduca
With growing awareness of significant environmental problems facing the earth in the coming decades, and the realization that issues such as global warming require action on the part of individuals as well as governments, earth system science must establish its place in college curricula to ensure that a new generation of citizens and scientists is prepared to meet future challenges.


By Joan Hawthorne
Standardized tests of general education outcomes among senior students are of questionable value as measures of institutional quality. As the primary measure of comparability and accountability, such tests must be deeply suspect.

By Eduardo J. Padrón
All stakeholders in the largest and most diverse college in the United States have agreed on a distinctive set of student learning outcomes, an agreement that dovetails with ongoing efforts to identify authentic methods of measuring what graduating students have learned.

By Susan Gano-Phillips and Robert W. Barnett
By empowering the campus community as a whole to make decisions about the curriculum, rather than relying on an appointed committee to make those decisions, a process-oriented approach to general education reform has changed the culture of the University of Michigan–Flint.

By Eric Zencey
As a meta-metanarrative organizing our thinking about American (and world) history, the story of human culture’s relationship to nature has some distinct advantages. It could even serve as the foundation of our polity.

My View

By David J. Siegel
How often do we—or might we—experience a moment of revelation on our own campuses, an encounter that causes us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary?

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