Trends in the Liberal Arts Core: A Vision for the 21st Century
A former Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Project and American Academy for Liberal Education Project, now in its Second Phase with ACTC
The faculty and administrators from the colleges and universities of the Association for Core Texts and Courses (ACTC) know that the Association is dedicated to improving liberal education through core texts and courses. This last April, during our annual conference, we briefly reviewed our national project for institutions that are considering serious and comprehensive general education review or reform. ACTC is undertaking a second phase of the former FIPSE/Mellon/American Academy for Liberal Education dissemination grant, Trends in the Liberal Arts Core: A Vision for the 21st Century. To date, our second phase has enlisted thirteen new institutions, bringing the total number of participating institutions in this national study to nearly 80. Trends is designed to help faculty and administrators to review and shape a unique general, liberal education on each participating institution’s campus so that that institution may more fully realize its educational goals and its niche among peer institutions.
Trends makes available the latest data on statistical patterns, models and innovations in general education curricula and assessment of Liberal Education from 1978-2002. Trends can provide comparisons of an institution’s current general education program to programs in 80 Baccalaureate, Comprehensive and Doctoral/Research Institutions. Trends data and models cover not only curricula, but administrative structures, co-curricular support, faculty enculturation, general education review processes, liberal arts assessment and accreditation. (This data is also supplemented by other ACTC projects which involve another 20 institutions and our extensive knowledge of the over 150 institutions which regularly participate in ACTC conferences.) Finally, Trends, Phase II, presents to institutions, administrators and faculty the opportunity to join in the construction of a research history on general education and to present in a national conference, for later publication, their institution’s most recent developments in general, liberal education.
For the next two years, ACTC will be offering to 23 more institutions the opportunity to join Trends’ second phase.
TRENDS, Phase Two, Provides Institutions With:
• A National, Statistical Data Base and Archive of General Education Programs of 66 original and 36 Phase Two Institutions Spanning 25 years
• Institutional Profiles Characterizing Each Institution’s Unique Developments in General Education
• Comparisons of an Institution’s Current General Education Program to National Trends and Peer Institutions
• Site Visits with Presentation to Discuss with Faculty and Administrators Useful National, General Education Innovations
• Publication of an Institution’s General Education Achievements
TRENDS Helps Institutions Focus Upon:
• General Education Curricular Review and Reform
• Qualitative Assessment of General Education Programs
• Administration and Co-Curricular Support for General Education
• Faculty Enculturation and Support
• Recruitment and Retention
• Institutional Strategic and Market Planning
Project Structure and Services
List of Participants
Sample Institutional Profile
For Further Discussion, Information or Referral to Other Institutions:
|J. Scott Lee, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Association for Core Texts and Courses & The ACTC Liberal Arts Institute at Concordia University-Irvine
List of Participating Institutions
“*” denotes state-supported institution.
“sv” denotes institution employing site visit
Phase I FIPSE/Mellon Participants 1998-2001:
Research Universities (12)
Oregon State University*
University of Iowa*
University of Maryland — College Park*
University of Miamisv
University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill*
University of South Carolina — Columbia*
Doctoral Universities (10)
Ball State University sv*
College of William and Mary*
Indiana University/Purdue University (Indianapolis)sv*
Miami University of Ohio*
Middle Tennessee State University*
Northern Arizona University*
Portland State University*
University of San Francisco
Masters Colleges/Universities (14)
Brooklyn College – CUNY sv*
Florida A&M University*
Grambling State University sv*
St. Michael’s College
University of Central Arkansas*
University of Nebraska — Kearney*
University of North Alabama*
Baccalaureate Colleges (30)
Bryn Mawr College
Colorado College sv
Dakota State University*
Lewis and Clark Collegesv
Ramapo College of New Jersey sv*
Reed College sv
Rhodes College sv
Thomas Aquinas College
University of Dallas
University of North Carolina at Asheville sv*
University of the South
Wabash College sv
Washington and Jefferson College
Washington and Lee University
Trends Phase II Institutions as of June 2004:
Aurora University sv
Benedictine University sv
Brigham Young University sv
Drury University sv
Fresno Pacific University sv
Indiana Purdue University of Kokomo sv*
James Madison University sv*
Kentucky State University sv*
Loyola College in Maryland sv
National University sv
St. Bonaventure University sv
St. Mary’s College of California sv
St. Olaf College sv
Project Structure and Services
Trends in the Liberal Arts Core: A Vision for the 21st Century is an expanding national project designed to help faculty and administrators to review and shape a unique general, liberal education on each participating institution’s campus. Trends is, at once, a curriculum review, a recruitment and retention instrument focusing on general education, a (new) faculty enculturation project, and an assessment planning tool for the liberal arts. In short, Trends is an invaluable resource for faculty and administrators to consider institutional improvements in general, liberal education.
After an institution invites the Trends project to campus, all work prior to the visit is done by the project staff. Aside from institutional contacts arranging the site visit, administration and faculty only need to become involved on the day of the site visit. The structure of preparation and participation is:
A. Data Contribution and Compilation: Participating Institutions send in seven catalogs, spaced four years apart from 1978 to 2002 and the data is entered into the Trends database
B. Institutional Profile: The project director, at the institution’s discretion, writes and delivers to the institution prior to any site visit an “Institutional Profile” and/or an “Institutional Data Analysis with Comparisons to Peer and Competing Institutions.”
C. Site Visit: The project director visits the campus and offers a presentation tailored very closely to your institution: “Trends in the Liberal Arts Core: General Education and [Your Institution].” The project director then consults with faculty and administrators, while gathering data to use in the national publication which will culminate the project.
Phase II innovations on this pattern:
D. Additions to the original database of statistical data on orientation and advisement, learning communities and teams, faculty enculturation, and program review and assessment linked to general education.
E. A National Conference to be held at the end of the second phase which will report the results of the participating institutions’ reforms and the impact of the project upon the participants.
F. Publication of Second Phase results: Participating institutions will be recognized nationally for their contribution to the project and their innovative reviews or reforms.
Participating institutions receive benefits from:
• An expanding national archive and database on reforms and innovations in general education since 1978 of over 80 institutions by which an institution’s own developments may be compared.
• Detailed examples of
o reform and review processes that succeed;
o new administrative structures;
o general education coordination with advising, supplemental instruction, learning teams and communities, new faculty enculturation, faculty support, establishment and administration of core text programs;
o new innovations in general education curricula, including core text course developments
o liberal education student-learning-outcomes based assessment, and
o accreditation preparation or reviews
The products of the project include:
Data Contributions and Resources: Supplying data to the project is essential to participation in the project and must include the seven catalogs described above. Additional data may be entered in the database and is welcome as a contribution to the archives of the project. Participating institutions receive a wealth of comparative data in return.
Institutional Profiles and/or Institutional Data Analysis with Comparison to Peer Institutions: Institutional Profiles (IPs) are detailed narrative histories of the development of each institution's general education program for the last 20 years to the present, set in the context of Trends national statistical patterns and evolutions of gen ed. IPs are very useful in raising awareness of an institution’s educational traditions and in enculturating faculty to an institution’s habits of general education.
Institutional Data Analysis places the institution’s current general education program within national statistics on curricular structure and, then, offers some “peer institution” comparisons. At the institutions request (and additional cost), additional data (e.g., on proposed curricular reviews, on goals and assessment, on administrative reorganization) can be analyzed and placed within the report. Thus, institutions may choose elements of the Institutional Profiles or Institutional Data Analyses.
Site Visit: The site visit is required and involves a presentation, “Trends in the Liberal Arts Core: General Education and [Your Institution].” The presentation, usually around 40 slides, examines current large-scale trends in general education, the causes of success and failure in reform, and the specific administrative, curricular, co-curricular, faculty support and enculturation, recruitment and retention, and assessment innovations which have put general education at the center of strategic planning for institutions across the United States. Particular efforts are made to tailor the presentation to the visited institution’s traditions and to discuss innovations, found across the nation that would be of interest to faculty and administrators. Breakouts with individuals and various campus groups are a common feature of the site visit.
The National Conference: At the end of the three-year period, in the fall of 2005, ACTC will hold a national Trends conference, separate from its spring annual conference. Participation is required. Part of the fee for service will reserve a place (including food and registration for one participant) at the conference for participating institutions. Nationally known public figures in general education and opportunities for each institution to present the results of its reform will shape the conference. The effort of the conference will be directed toward showing that the Association for Core Texts and Courses and the institutions in this project are national leaders in reforming and renewing liberal, general education.
Publication of the Conference and Data Results: Each institution will receive project results and a publication with a national, general education publisher of the conference selected papers.