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Liberal Education and General Education: Educating 21 st Century Students for a World Shared in Common. General Education and University Curriculum Reform: An International Conference in Hong Kong June 12, 2012 Carol Geary Schneider. Overview.

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Liberal Education and General Education:

Educating 21st Century Students for a World Shared in Common

General Education and University Curriculum Reform: An International Conference in Hong Kong

June 12, 2012

Carol Geary Schneider

  • Clarifying Our Terms: Liberal Education, General Education, Excellent University Education
  • General Education and the Aims of Education
  • Connecting Learning with Wider Society
  • Principles of Excellence for General and University Education
  • Aligning Principles with Practices – Preparing Students for a World Shared in Common
clarifying our terms
Clarifying Our Terms
  • Liberal Education
  • General Education
  • Excellent University Education Across General Education and Major Programs
general education and the aims of education
General Education and the Aims of Education

Asking What All Students Need to Learn – Goals for General Learning – Raises Issues of Institutional Mission and Purpose – and Then Leads Directly to the Connections Between Learning and the Wider Society

connecting learning w ith the wider society
Connecting Learning With the Wider Society
  • The Economy?
  • Global Engagement and Community?
  • Civil Society?
  • Personal Integrity and Development?
  • A World of Rapid and Fast-Paced Change?

What Will Students Need for Success in

the twenty first century university
The Twenty-First Century University
  • The Curriculum in Transition:
  • Rethinking educational purposes and practices to better prepare students for
  • Innovation in the Economy
  • Global Interdependence
  • Healthy, Humane, and Just Societies
the curriculum in transition general education and connections with the major 21 st century
The Curriculum in Transition: General Education and Connections With the Major – 21st Century
connecting learning with the wider society cont
Connecting Learning With the Wider Society (cont.)
  • Economic Challenges
  • Civic and Global Challenges
university learning for the 21 st century economy
University Learning for the 21st Century Economy
  • Employers are demanding more – much more
    • They want and seek many more university-educated workers
    • They also seek much higher and broader levels of learning in those they employ, retain, and promote
economic pressures volatility and complexity
Economic Pressures: Volatility and Complexity
  • Rapid scientific and technological innovations are changing the workplace and demanding more of all employees
  • Global interdependence and complex cross-cultural interactions increasingly define modern society and the workplace and call for new levels of knowledge and capacity
employers are raising the bar
Employers Are Raising the Bar
  • 91% of employers say that they are “asking employees to take on more responsibilities and to use a broader set of skills than in the past”
  • 88% of employers say that “the challenges their employees face are more complex than they were in the past.”
  • 88% of employers agree that “to succeed in their companies, employees needs higher levels of learning and knowledge than they did in the past.”

Source: “Raising the Bar: Employers’ Views on College Learning in the Wake of the Economic Downturn” (AAC&U and Hart Research Associates, 2010)


The Growing Demand for Higher Order Skills

Source: Council on Competitiveness, Competitiveness Index

economic pressures innovation and measured risk taking
Economic Pressures: Innovation and Measured Risk-Taking
  • In a globalized knowledge economy, the capacity to drive INNOVATION is the key strategic advantage
employers do not want people who can only see things from one point of view
Employers Do Not Want People Who Can Only See Things From One Point of View

“You cannot retreat to a cave and work in isolation until you like the solution.” – Frank Levinson, Managing Director, Small World Group, Singapore


Thinking Across Disciplines

“[T]he reason that Apple is able to create products like the iPad is that we’ve always tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both…And it’s the combination of these two things that I think has let us make the kind of creative products like the iPad.”Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Apple Inc.

connecting learning with the wider society cont1
Connecting Learning With the Wider Society (cont.)
  • Economic Challenges
  • Civic and Global Challenges
global challenges
Global Challenges
  • Poverty, War, Suffering…Sustenance and Human Dignity
  • Illiteracy and Its Effects…Education and Opportunity
  • Energy and the Environment…Sustainability,Research, and Innovation
  • Terrorism and Fear…

Law, Justice, Self-Determination

We Must Graduate Students Who Are PreparedandInspired to Take Responsibility for Solving Global Problems – At Home and Abroad

A Crucible Moment (AAC&U, 2012) Recommends Civic Learning as a Priority Both in General Education and in Major

from a decade of analysis the key elements for a 21 st century curriculum are now in hand
From a Decade of Analysis, the Key Elements for a 21st Century Curriculum Are Now in Hand
  • Essential Aims and Outcomes
  • Practices That Foster Achievement and Completion
  • Practices That Move Global and Social Responsibility Back to the Center
  • Assessments That Raise—as well as Reveal—the Level of Students’ Learning
the essential learning outcomes
The Essential Learning Outcomes
  • Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World
  • Intellectual and Practical Skills
  • Personal and Social Responsibility
  • Integrative, Adaptive, and Applied Learning

(See handout)


Both Faculty and Employers Value the Essential Learning Outcomes; Employers Seek “More Emphasis” on These Capacities

four principles of excellence for general education and majors
Four Principles of Excellence for General Education AND Majors
  • Engage the Big Questions
  • Teach the Arts of Inquiry and Innovation
  • Connect Knowledge with Choices and Action
  • Foster Civic, Intercultural, and Ethical Learning
for broad knowledge and that big picture perspective
For Broad Knowledge – and that “Big Picture” Perspective

1. Engage the Big Questions

Teach Through the Curriculum to Far-Reaching Issues – Contemporary and Enduring – in Science and Society, Cultures and Values, Global Interdependence, the Changing Economy, and Human Dignity and Freedom


Introduce “Big Questions” in First Year General Education Programs

e.g. What is a Good Society? Historical, Cross-Cultural, and Personal Reflections

  • Expect Advanced Students to Explore Their Own “Big Questions” BOTH in AdvancedGeneral Education Courses AND in Their Majors
practices that work to engage students with broad knowledge and big questions big picture
Practices That Work to Engage Students with Broad Knowledge and Big Questions/Big Picture
  • Common Intellectual Experiences
  • Writing and Research
  • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  • Cluster Courses – Several Courses That Explore Common Topics Such as Technology and Social Conflict
to develop intellectual and practical skills
To Develop Intellectual and Practical Skills

2. Teach the Arts of Inquiry and InnovationImmerse All Students in Analysis, Discovery, Problem Solving, and Communication, Beginning in School and Advancing in the University


Break Students of the Idea That They Have Come to the University Mainly to Learn “What is Already Known”

  • Emphasize the Societal and Economic Value of Research into Emerging Questions–
    • Preparation for jobs that are rapidly changing
    • Solutions to problems we are only starting to understand
    • Responsibility for a world—local and global— that we share in common
Practices That Work to Help Students Master the “Arts of Inquiry” and Skills Related to Innovative Problem Solving
  • Research questions and assignments early and often

In early AND advanced General Education

In Major Programs

Connecting “Big Questions” with Majors

  • Field-Based Research and Problem-Solving – With Employers and/or Community Partners
  • Culminating or Capstone Projects
to foster integrative and adaptive learning
To Foster Integrative and Adaptive Learning

3. Connect Knowledge with Choices and Actions

Prepare Students for Citizenship and Work through Engaged and Guided Learning on “Real-World” Problems


Both the economy and society need graduates who are ready to apply their learning to new settings and problems—AND, who are competent in learning FROM experience

  • So, the goal is to connect both inquiry and knowledge with action—but, also, to give students rich opportunities to reflect on their “real-world” learning and to revise their assumptions in light of experience
practices that work to help students integrate knowledge with action
Practices That Work to Help Students Integrate Knowledge with Action
  • Internships and Practicums
  • Service Learning/Civic Problem-Solving
  • Research with Community Partners
  • Culminating or Capstone Projects That Blend Research and Real-World Problems
to help students take responsibility for a world shared in common
To Help Students Take Responsibility for a World Shared in Common

4. Foster Civic, Intercultural, and Ethical LearningEmphasize Personal and Social Responsibility, in Every Field of Study


Too often, faculty introduce ethical, intercultural (diversity) and ethical questions in general education, but spend little or no time on them in major programs

  • A 21st century education should prepare students to tackle difficult cultural, ethical, and societal issues, both through general studies and through major programs
Practices That Work to Help Students Develop Intercultural Competence, Social Responsibility, and Ethical Judgment
  • Diversity studies and experiences, especially when “intergroup dialogue” is included

Note: Frequency Matters!

  • Global studies and experiences
  • Guided ethical reflection—case studies; students’ own experiences
high impact reports
High Impact Reports

To Learn More About Practices That Work, See High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter by George Kuh (AAC&U, 2008)

connecting learning to the wider society
Connecting Learning to the Wider Society

Once We Ask What General Learning Students Need for Success, the Answers Lead Back to the Purposes and Design of the Entire Educational Experience in Helping Student Achieve “Essential Learning Outcomes”

thus general education raises issues that matter to the entire educational experience
Thus, General Education Raises Issues that Matter to The Entire Educational Experience
  • General Studies
  • Majors
  • Campus Community
  • Campus AND Community

And the Importance of the Connections Between Them.


Working Together, We Can and Must Educate Students Who Will Work Together to Build and Sustain a Better Future