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Archive for Monday, September 3, 2012

Western Civilization class may no longer be required at KU

Desire for flexibility cited as reason to make longtime standard optional

September 3, 2012

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As Kansas University shifts to a new set of general education requirements, KU leaders hope to give students more flexible options. And that will likely mean students can choose to avoid some hurdles their predecessors had to clear, including a course familiar to most KU undergraduates: Western Civilization.

The reading-heavy two-semester introductory courses are centered on exposing students to some of the great books in the Western canon and usually involve smaller discussion sections where students hash out some of the big ideas from the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans to the present day.

The two-semester sequence is required under existing rules to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Danny Anderson, KU’s dean of liberal arts and sciences, said a school committee is in the middle of revamping its own general education requirements to align with a universitywide effort.

Though that process is ongoing, he said, he is directing the committee to provide as many flexible options as possible. That likely means that while Western Civilization courses will continue to be offered and will likely fill a requirement of the new curriculum, they will be an elective course instead of a mandatory one.

“It’s not that Western Civilization will be dropped; what we’re doing is including it in a range of options,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that under today’s requirements if a student came to KU with no advanced placement credit, he or she would be spending well over half of his or her hours for graduation on general education requirements.

“Students today really want to advance more quickly in areas they want to specialize in, or they want to do second or third minors that will help them in the job market,” he said.

Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, director of KU’s humanities and Western Civilization program, said while the new requirements may mean fewer students take the introductory courses, some of the other courses in the department also may be included in the new requirements as electives. That potentially could increase attendance in those courses.

Faculty members in the program also are reviewing the introductory courses to align with the goals of the new KU curriculum, she said.

James Hillesheim, a retired KU professor of education, taught the required Western Civilization courses for years. He said he had heard that they were in danger of being dropped from the mandated courses that students had to take in liberal arts and sciences.

“I thought, uh-oh, there it goes,” he said. “It’s, to me, going in the wrong direction.”

He said the discussions in Western Civilization courses tackled a whole range of ideas and problems that come up again and again throughout life. They also expose students to Western culture and thought.

“I see it as trying to raise numbers of graduating students by lowering standards,” he said.

KU officials insist the new requirements will still ensure students are learning the skills that a university education is supposed to provide, but will merely emphasize different paths to get there.

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 11 months ago

I remember Jim Seaver teaching my undergraduate courses in Western Civ, at Pearson Scholarship Hall, and he was tremendous!

Jim, you did a tremendous job, and you taught - and then we all discussed - whole new areas of thought which I had never before experienced. Western Civ put a new dimension in my whole outlook at KU.

I eventually intend to bring in some of your class discussions at my blog on Pearson Scholarship when I was there many years ago, but I had to make this comment when this article appeared today.

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kernal 1 year, 11 months ago

Oh, for pete's sake. If the rest of us were able to wade through it, so can future generations.

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Topple 1 year, 11 months ago

So we should force students to "wade through" worthless courses that will have no bearing on their future careers? How about we stop racking up student loans and sending young adults on their way with a degree and tens of thousands in debt and start focusing on their careers? I took a slew of interesting courses that were meant to keep me well-rounded, but ultimately served no purpose other than to add another three hours to my course load and $1000+ to my bill.

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Chris Paradies 1 year, 11 months ago

I for one, loved Western Civ. I learned a ton in the class and still consider it one of my favorite classes. With that in mind, I do agree that most people see the class as "wading through it," and those aren't he classes students should be taking.

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laurennoel33 1 year, 11 months ago

I hardly believe it's worthless. I for one, learned to appreciate other religions and philosophical thoughts.. In an intolerant and hateful world, that seems pretty useful to me.

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JustNoticed 1 year, 11 months ago

If someone who actually got a degree can say this, "... worthless courses that will have no bearing on their future careers? ", can there be any hope for us? I don't think so.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

There's nothing worthless about learning about Western Civ...although I'd make it mandatory to learn WORLD civilization. We should not want to encourage the arrogant, yet foolish idea that "American exceptionalism" refers to individual Americans themselves. We should not want to encourage the arrogant, yet foolish idea that nothing can be better than America.

The less we know about things outside our own narrow existing world, the less able we are to think critically.

And, if someone runs up school loans nowadays at a college or university, they have no one to blame but themselves. There are now well over 100 US public and private colleges and universities...and I'm talking excellent schools (and not just wealthy Ivy League schools) that have eliminated school loans from their financial aid packages.

Of course, no Kansas college or university appears to have such a program yet...but being a Kansan doesn't mean you have to go to college In Kansas. (After all, no Kansas college or university makes it into the top 100.)

So, nope...I don't agree that courses should cease being mandatory because of school loans. That makes ZERO sense.

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fu7il3 1 year, 11 months ago

Western Civilization is not "American exceptionalism." It primarily studies European cultural history, including Greece and Rome. North America is a very small part of it.

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Orwell 1 year, 11 months ago

No purpose? I guess KU should just be a glorified trade school, huh? Somewhere along the line you missed the difference between training and education. ¡Qué lástima!

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tomatogrower 1 year, 11 months ago

Topple, is it a University or a VoTech school? Western Civilization taught me how we got to where we are now, and how we are doomed to repeat all the crud that happened in the past, because of lazy people who don't want to have to read. Make them read complicated, higher level reading matter, and they might be able to read the fine print in the contract that you would prefer they ignore. We don't need no education. We just good little robots who let others do our thinking.

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jonas_opines 1 year, 11 months ago

I got lucky with these. WC1 I had a lecture with a professor, discussion with a TA, and a decent TA. By the time I took WC2 I had learned to deliberately look for those Not in one of the giant lecture halls, and got a small class all three days per week. Led by a TA, but that TA was probably the best teacher I had at KU. He was gifted.

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Curtis Lange 1 year, 11 months ago

Good riddance. Western Civ has to be in the top five worst 'mandatory' classes of all time. Horrible, horrible memories of that class.

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overthemoon 1 year, 11 months ago

Because you weren't prepared to learn anything from it. It's the most important class you had. Too bad it flew over your head.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

You might have had a poor teacher/instructor. But that doesn't mean the course, itself, is bad or should be eliminated.

Critical thinking, Curtis...use your critical thinking!!

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 11 months ago

I love to read and had read most of the classes by the time I got to KU so it didn't go over my head. But, I was totally bored. Worst class I ever had and I was and am insulted by by the inference that only dead white men have written something of worth.

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parrothead8 1 year, 11 months ago

"Students today really want to advance more quickly in areas they want to specialize in..."

Then why go to a university? Go get a 2-year degree at a technical school or community college. Or maybe employers should take the initiative to start hiring and training people right out of high school.

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overthemoon 1 year, 11 months ago

or maybe our High Schools should be teaching real 'thinking' so it isn't up to the universities to do so.

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kuguardgrl13 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't think real "thinking" is the problem with Western Civ. It's the amount of reading that can be overwhelming. Most high school textbooks are nowhere close to a college reading level. And a lot of schools won't choose a book that is appropriate for the level of student. My senior government class used an 8th grade textbook. So going from reading books below your reading level and jumping to college can be quite a shock. High schools need to bone up and get students reading more because the colleges shouldn't have to lower standards.

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kernal 1 year, 11 months ago

Sounds like your high school didn't have adequate funds for better classroom texts. And, there lies our future shame in education.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

Sounds like elementary and middle schools need to step up, too!

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tomatogrower 1 year, 11 months ago

overthemoon, high schools are too busy jumping through the hoops that the dear politicians hold up. Trying to teach them to think for themselves just get labeled as "liberal" brainwashing stuff.

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notaubermime 1 year, 11 months ago

Because two year degrees aren't going to get you anywhere as a medical doctor, pharmacist, chemist, physicist, geologist, biologist, or a psychologist.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

But those aren't usually the folks who complain about having to take Western Civ classes, either :-)

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notaubermime 1 year, 11 months ago

Bull. If you give people majoring in those areas an opportunity to take more classes in their degree, you would be surprised how many would jump at it.

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Topple 1 year, 11 months ago

Because not all specialized fields are accessible without a 4-year or masters degree.

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volunteer 1 year, 11 months ago

Appalling. The dumbing down brigade appears to be winning at ku. I went to washburn so I had professors with doctorates teaching me western civ. Does ku still allow a "general studies" degree? How is that provost for diversity working out for you? At least ku has a consumer economics course..along with many high schools in the state...

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

"Consumer economics" needs to be mandatory in the 6th, 9th and 11/12th grades. Of course, a better name would help :-) As would teachers who actually knew the skills themselves.

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Newell_Post 1 year, 11 months ago

What a tragedy. What will now happen to the second and third sons of idle rich plantation owners? We don't need cavalry officers any more, and with Western Civ optional, will they actually be expected to study fields with career-related skills? Heaven forfend! (And Spellcheck doesn't even recognize "forfend." Ironically, Spellcheck doesn't even recognize "spellcheck" either, at least on LJW.)

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dumbkansans 1 year, 11 months ago

Take it online at a community college. Anyone who takes Western Civ at KU deserves the bad grade they will more than likely receive.

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overthemoon 1 year, 11 months ago

No. This should be the most interesting and relevant course students have. If they think its 'stupid', they should be kicked out of college and sent to the salt mines.

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Topple 1 year, 11 months ago

Why should this be the most interesting and relevant course to students? Why should it be more relevant than economics? Why should it be more interesting than a business law course? Just because you're interested in the development of civilization in history doesn't mean everyone else is.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

Why most relevant? Because we have GOT to learn that American is not the center of the universe...and that "American exceptionalism" does NOT refer to us as individuals!

Personally, I'd make sure that 1 required semester was Western Civ while the second was World Civ. The ignorance about the rest of the world that spews from us nowadays is appalling.

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Topple 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm not sure I understand you.

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jhawk0097 1 year, 11 months ago

Those classes were not hard fyi. Yes, a lot of reading. Hard? No.

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Matthew Herbert 1 year, 11 months ago

your name on this forum is ironic. I can read, consequently I earned an "A" in WCIV.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 11 months ago

Volunteer: You beat me to it, part of the dumbing down of America. Preparing the country for a slide into ignorance.

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Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

Western Civ has been a stalwart of college education for a long time. The challenges of rigor and understanding are an absolute necessity for a college educated person. Our understandings and world views have evolved. I would hope that the expectation of rigor and understanding will be maintained. I wonder if these courses will increase overall understanding or isolate understanding such as black history or women's studies.

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Jean Robart 1 year, 11 months ago

I took Western Civ at a college in another state, and was impressed with the course. We were not exposed to writers of epic books, but we were introduced to culture of the western world. It was fabulous. The course at KU sounds deadly.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

You have an excellent point. THAT is what I mean when I'm referring to Western Civ because I, too, took my classes elsewhere.

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kef104 1 year, 11 months ago

Western Civilization is the backbone of Liberal Arts. This class is the definition of the curriculum for a Liberal Arts degree. It strives to push one from being a mere student to thinking as a true scholar. Being exposed to the great thinkers that are the foundation of modern thought challenges us to explore our own beliefs, our own experiences, and our own purpose.

The point of attending a 1st class university is to expand and strengthen one's mind. If a student only wants to get a piece of paper to get a job, then they have no business attending our institution. Seriously, let them attend Brown Mackie or the University of Phoenix.

While our youth may think they want a short cut to getting a job, our Academic leaders talk about striving to be a top institution of learning. In which direction are we actually heading? Do we broadcast reruns of Lavern and Shirley as a humanities credit or do we insist young minds challenge themselves, and each other, to understand the basis of not just our society, but all modern societies.

And yes I know using Lavern and Shirley is an extreme exaggeration of dumbing down. I only used it to demonstrate the potential eventual end result of lowering standards to accommodate the least common denominator of those who might be willing to pay our tuition.

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Topple 1 year, 11 months ago

"The point of attending a 1st class university is to expand and strengthen one's mind. If a student only wants to get a piece of paper to get a job, then they have no business attending our institution. Seriously, let them attend Brown Mackie or the University of Phoenix."

If you aren't as refined as kef, you aren't worthy of higher learning. If you want a job after you're done with school, you're in the wrong place. We are here to learn, not employ a future workforce. Tell that to the students graduating with tens of thousands of debt and no job.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

There's a difference between a "job" and a "career".

As far as the school loans go? This is the 21st century. It's not necessary to take out school loans to get a college degree...except, apparently, in Kansas. High school kids need to look elsewhere. They can get a better education with no school loans.

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kef104 1 year, 11 months ago

Topple, so you think those that are willing to stretch themselves to obtain a broad based education are "refined." There may be truth to that. However you state it as if it is a bad thing. It is not. My argument was really quite simple, although stating "have no business" overstated and clouded the concept of selecting a school that meets ones personal commitment to education. Forgive me, it was quite late.

Similar to shopping for a vehicle, there are many types of educational options. If one does not want to learn at least a little bit simply for the sake of learning, then attend an institution that only focuses on printing degrees and handing them out.

Do NOT dumb down a fine institution to placate those that are uninterested in a broad based education. It is not about being worthy, it is about choosing what fits an individuals version of a proper and complete education.

Perhaps if you had appreciated Western Civilization you would not belittle others for seeing the value in exposure to diverse thoughts and opinions. And remember, this is not a Business school requirement, it is a Liberal Arts requirement, where social sciences are valued.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 11 months ago

Topple, those who get a broad education are more adaptable when their job gets eliminated. They are the innovators. Just plain job training doesn't do anything. It was the MBA's who almost ran GM into the ground. It took someone truly educated to turn it around.

1

notaubermime 1 year, 11 months ago

Geeeeez people! They aren't dropping the class and with what they are discussing, and the class will still fulfill a requirement for the CLAS undergraduate degrees.

I agree with the KU admin that spending half of an undergraduate degree meeting general CLAS requirements is a bit much. Along those lines, taking time-intensive requirements and grouping them isn't a bad idea. The biggest question in my mind is whether doing that with Western Civ is the best of the options before them. To be able to judge that, one has to know more than just a snippet of the plans being considered.

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LogicMan 1 year, 11 months ago

"As Kansas University shifts to a new set of general education requirements, KU leaders hope to give students more flexible options."

What's this, and to which schools will it apply?

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oldexbeat 1 year, 11 months ago

Great class that mattered for my education at KU. Had it in 1967. Ramon Powers, later for 14 years head of the Kansas State Historical Society, taught my first semester.

Seems that teaching standards based on getting a job versus getting a mind might be winning -- oh hell, in the future Mitt says we'll be rich anyway. Time to train your mind then, I guess.

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Jeff Barclay 1 year, 11 months ago

Fine with me. Western Civ at KU was actually designed to systematically dismantle and deny any and all positive aspects of Christianity. It has really been effective, but it was rarely taught with any degree of historical integrity. Actually, I am kind of surprised it will no longer be required... But great news as far as I am concerned. Could have been an excellent course, but with a bias of political correctness guiding content and discussions it left students out on a limb without a trunk to support or explain a lot of history.

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jonas_opines 1 year, 11 months ago

"Western Civ at KU was actually designed to systematically dismantle and deny any and all positive aspects of Christianity."

This is what some posters actually believe.

Christianity had its place in both classes. The proper place, being one important strain of thought among other important strains of thought. I suspect that is what your problem with it actually is.

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kernal 1 year, 11 months ago

If that's the case Barclay, tell me what you think the reason for assigning Martin Luther's "Christian Liberty" and St. Thomas Acquinas "Treatise on Law" in one of my Western Civ classes might have been. Western Civilization was built on Christianity and the Bible was the first and still is the main reference book for most of Western literature. I don't understand what you mean by "...it was rarely taught with any degree of historical integrity".

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mom_of_three 1 year, 11 months ago

I took Western Civ 2 at KU and loved it. I read authors I normally wouldn't have read, but helped develop my mind and introduce me to different things. I thought it was very useful for my college career.

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rosben 1 year, 11 months ago

I could say the same about Physics. Or Calculus. Or Chemistry. These courses provide a basic understanding of the world around us. My point being, requiring an identical course for all majors is a very slippery slope, and would mean that no major would result in any depth.

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LJD230 1 year, 11 months ago

Ya know, I think, ya know that western civ is not a ya know, I think a very useful course you know because it like requires a student to read you know like some heavy books with heavy thoughts you know and we must you know I think graduate students in four years ya know.

Dropping the western civ requirement will only further cheapen the value of a KU undergraduate degree. You know?

1

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Western Civ. was one of those classes that we all bitched and groaned about before taking the class. Years later, it's one of my fondest memories. And the comments about Prof. Seaver, exactly correct. One of the best educators you could ever hope to come into contact with. To this day, I'm surprised how many classes outside my area of study stand out in my mind, Western Civ. being near the top of that list.

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Steve Bunch 1 year, 11 months ago

Another step in the decline and fall of KU. Why not give up all pretense? A college education is a mere commodity to be bought and sold.

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neverwrong 1 year, 11 months ago

Newsflash. Some specialized (read, not worthless) degrees are already exempt from Western Civ.

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Steve Bunch 1 year, 11 months ago

But it's hard to take seriously a liberal arts degree that does not include western civ.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

We already know. Because, apparently unlike you, WE could read that it's a requirement for a KU liberal arts degree...not all KU degrees.

But, hey...why should we expect reading for context and critical thinking from someone who sneers at a liberal arts degree?

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classclown 1 year, 11 months ago

“I see it as trying to raise numbers of graduating students by lowering standards,”

===========================================

Ding ding ding ding ding!

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Centerville 1 year, 11 months ago

Too much reading? Hello! This is college we're talking about.

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irtnog2001 1 year, 11 months ago

I agree with dropping these requirements. Unfortunately, it is just a recognition of todays economic reality. Students are first and foremost interested in reasonably priced education that will help them get jobs. Like it or not the demand for liberal arts majors will drastically decrease and these courses while they may be valuable are just too expensive and time consuming to require in todays economic enviroment. It has nothing to do with dumbing down.

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Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

Perhaps you ought to discuss this assumption with actual employers before making such assumptions?

And perhaps you ought to look at all the colleges and universities out there who already offer loan-free financial aid packages? I certainly wish more KU students would/did. Well, at least the ones who complain about "needing" to take out school loans.

By the way, I have recently spoken with TWO new nursing grads, neither of which has a job in nursing and both of which complain about their loans. And why don't they have nursing jobs? Because they don't want to move away from Lawrence, so they won't even apply to hospitals with current job openings!!!

I am not going to blame that on Western Civ (which they didn't have to take) or school loans. Would you?

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blindrabbit 1 year, 11 months ago

(1) Back off of the foreign language requirement in The College of LA&S, (2) Increase the math and sciences requirement, (3) Re-emphasize Western Civ.. by modernizing it by making more of a learning experience and less of a "burden"; (4) Require all tenured ColLA&S staff to teach at least one Western Civ. session per school year. (5) Require a 1 hour course in "Ethics in Society"..

Is KU trying to become a Community College by proposing changes and weakening standards or does it want to retain it's leadership role at the University level in/for The State of Kansas?

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voevoda 1 year, 11 months ago

How would it improve the quality of education to 1) Leave students monolingual, operating under the false assumption that everything and everyone that matters can be accessed in English? 2) Increase the math and science requirements when too many entering students already need remedial work in order to qualify for freshman courses? 3) Make Western Civ more "modern" than it already is (it integrates diverse religious and cultural traditions)? 4) Have Western Civ courses by faculty who don't specialize in the subject, such as the chemists or the sociologists? 5) Confine the study of ethics to a 1-hour course? I'm afraid that your proposal, blindrabbit, would actually convert KU to the "community college" you so dread.

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irtnog2001 1 year, 11 months ago

Hello unless you are talking about a specialized program the first two years are basically community college content anyway.

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ThePilgrim 1 year, 11 months ago

The Decline of Western Civilization will not be noticed if students do not take the course.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 11 months ago

voevoda: It did not say eliminated the foreign language requirement, just back off somewhat. When I at KU, the 16 hour (out of 132 hours) language requirement was a burden to taking other classes that could/would have provided a more well rounded LA experience. Don't want to eliminate just make more relevant. The University should strive to increase it's standing in math and science; too bad that many students struggle with this, but that should not really a KU problem, students should be better prepared in these subjects as part of the high school experience. "Make Western Civ more modern" then why eliminate it, too much reading though, too little real learning when grabbing a few facts to pass a required exam. Require staff to teach class, maybe should have said, lead a discussion group; I don't see a problem with chemists and sociologists (or for that matter, icthyologists), leading a group. Ethics is/are increasingly need in our complex society, not only as part of the college experience but as students leave and integrate into the larger society

I attended KU both prior to and after the Vietnam debacle; having served in Navy between those times. My recollection being that KU and other Universities cheapened their standards during that time (perhaps as part of the turbulent times). Degrees in General Studies and many of the more "Social" subjects seem to be the darlings following that time, and resulted in the decline of standards. Emphasis seemed to be directed to job creation for students as opposed to a well rounded LA education; something that should be offered/taught at the Community College level.

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Jeremiah Jefferson 1 year, 11 months ago

Western Civilization I and II were good classes. Just depends on who is teaching them and how much they are in love with what they are teaching. I always enjoyed watching my instructor harrass KU students for wimping out on KU Western Civilization Classes and going over to Neosho County Community College because they think NCCC is going to be gravy.

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bevy 1 year, 11 months ago

Many valid points from all sides. I will inject a little wisdom that I gained from one of my professors at Washburn University. (No GTAs there, just PhDs teaching when I attended.) He taught honors courses in political science, among other things. He said "If you want job training, go to the vo-tech. If you want an EDUCATION, you go to a university." Mind you, this was 20 years ago, but I think his point is still valid. A university education (especially a liberal arts education) is supposed to teach you how to think, how to assimilate information, and how to communicate with others in ways that make sense. I have degrees in English and History from Washburn. My training in both areas has been essential to my success in the high-tech field in which I am employed. All industries need critical thinkers and people with good reading/writing/communications skills. All that Algebra I had to take in order to graduate? Haven't used it once. But I took it, because doing so was necessary for my education. I, too, groaned. But I did it!

There is also that old axiom "Those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it." We see that in the news every day.

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irtnog2001 1 year, 11 months ago

There are a lot of "educated" liberal arts grads out there flipping burgers and wondering where their next meal will come from. But being politically astute they will mow see how they should vote.

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Doug Harvey 1 year, 11 months ago

This is exactly why higher education is free in civilized countries. Students need to learn what forces created the world they live in, and they shouldn't have to go into debt to do it. If it doesn't pay, it isn't worth doing? That would put prostitution and drug dealing on a higher plane than western civ. Brilliant.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 11 months ago

bevy: Well said and right on! My guess is that many at KU and no doubt other universities as well would probably be better off with a Community College or Vo-Tech training and experience. Many use college as a growing-up, getting away from home and door opening advantage in getting a job. My guess is that the real advantage of a University liberal arts education has little bearing on them being in school.

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kernal 1 year, 11 months ago

For those still dissing Western Civ, here's a little quote from Sigmund Freud's "The Future of an Illusion" that I think speaks volumes about the U.S. today.

"...the less a man knows about the past and the present the more insecure must prove must be his judgment of the future."

Perhaps more voters and politicians should have taken Western Civ.

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fu7il3 1 year, 11 months ago

You cannot have a true liberal arts education without Western Civilization. If you don't understand the basis for thought and social structure for our society, then you are a less productive citizen. Not productive, economically, but productive politically. We already have too many people who can't think for themselves, have no concept of political or social process, and believe anything they see on the internet.

A liberal arts education, at least for most measures, is less about getting a job and more about getting and education. Will the degree help you professionally? Yes, it can. But it is more about helping you personally. If you want job training, don't major in liberal arts. It's like we went to produce a society of productive workers who are unable to think.

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Tomato 1 year, 11 months ago

If Western Civ was the ONLY requirement, then I would be in favor of it. But it's not.

You wade through two English classes (is there any reason for the second one when essay writing and reading can be and are incorporated into the two Western Civ classes?) Then there's the humanities requirement on top of that, and the social sciences requirement and the COMS requirement (why not shift some of the Western Civ reading to that COMS class and have people speak on those topics?), then they lumped a few more requirements on top of those ones for good measure.

I was extra lucky because I was a transfer student. I had taken a variety of humanities classes already (including Philosophy) and had already done the majority of the reading in Western Civ - but since it didn't fall under the special class heading "Western Civ," I repeated it all.

It was a super special experience. I sat through Western Civ as a Senior and was treated to a TA who told me not to try to discuss the readings too deeply because we really didn't have time and it mostly goes over the heads of the younger students, anyway - we didn't want to confuse them.

Really? Thanks for wasting my time and money.

Get rid of it as a requirement and make it elective. Incorporate the essentials into other classes. Let people take Philosophy if they want to take Philosophy.

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irtnog2001 1 year, 11 months ago

Great points. I know a lot of "well educated" idiots for which such classes did not appear to help much. Ultimately, if you want to learn how to think you must teach yourself.

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jonas_opines 1 year, 11 months ago

"I placed out of WC......I filled in with basket weaving."

It looks like, from your post, a little more reading might have done you some good.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 11 months ago

MacHeath: What are you trying to do, kill off the book industry. I remember carrying a grocery sack (probably 20 books) to satisfy the first semester of WC; probably the same for the second semester. Much of the assigned readings were just parts of those tomes, I often wondered why a synopsis document was not available. This was 45 years ago, and KU apparently has not upgraded the course very much in the intervening years. Obviously, time for some real changes.

As much as I dreaded all of the reading and late hours trying to understand all of the literal and hidden meanings in these writings, and readying for that dreaded final exam, I have to admit now I fall back on that knowledge even though it was far removed from my major and working life. To have missed that exposure would have been unfortunate. As a natural sciences major, the most rewarding classes I enrolled in at KU were not in my major but were W.C., Art History and Classical Music History. These exposures make life much more rewarding!

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tomatogrower 1 year, 11 months ago

This is ridiculous. Let's eliminate the name University and call it Kansas VoTech. Poor babies. How can you expect them to read all those dead guys. I mean, what do they have to do with today. Besides, the pundits can interpret all that old stuff for us in little sound bites.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 11 months ago

Let's face it, the proposed elimination is part of the College of LA&S to dumb down the curriculum in order to meet the needs and aptitute of many entering students. KU realizes that it is not only in the educational business but it is in the business of attracting students and the dollars they bring. By maintaining high standards universities run the risk of chasing off students whose primary empasis is the job market and not necessarily a quality eductation. This is re-enforced by hiring in the job market where "quality education" often takes a backseat to job skills and inexpensive hires. Kansas has many colleges and universities (maybe more than the population can reasonably support), hence the competition for bodies. This being the case, why would the supposed "Flagship" school join the dumbing down chase other than the $$$$'s.

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irtnog2001 1 year, 11 months ago

KU has not released its fall enrollment stats yet. When they do I think it will indicate further decline in undergraduate enrollment. At the current rate KU will soon be surpassed by KSU and JCCC in undergraduate enrollment. KU needs to decide if it will expand enrollment and become more user friendly by offering streamlined curricula and expanding online course and degree offering s or if it wants to continue to shrink by retaining the liberal art model. I see advantages to both but a decision will have to be made.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 11 months ago

Maybe time for concerned alums to do a little twisting on the KU Endowment Association if they feel that the University is headed in the wrong direction on this matter.. From reading the original story it appears that the dean of the College of LA&S has already made the decision to abandon the Western Civ. requirement. I don't want a dumbed-down KU.

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irtnog2001 1 year, 11 months ago

I see privatization as a win-win solution. The university can raise standards as it wishes without state control the state can use the saved tax expenditures for secondary schools. Not sure Kansas can continue to support all of the state universities.

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irtnog2001 1 year, 11 months ago

According to the Regents website Emporia was a member before KU & KSU

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blindrabbit 1 year, 11 months ago

State should have never moved Emporia, Ft. Hays and Pittsburgh into the University system. Was done to satisfy politico's in the hinterlands, to the detriment of KU, KSU and Wichita. Once even entertained bringing Washburn fully into the State system, cooler heads prevailed on this concept. Not really sure why Washburn would want this anyway; they seem pretty secure as they are.

But maybe time for KU and State to explore privatization, I would like to know all the pros and cons.

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bevy 1 year, 11 months ago

As a Washburn alum, blindrabbit, I think I can speak for the bods when I say "NOOOOO!!!!"

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Newell_Post 1 year, 11 months ago

If you graduate from high school with an adequate general education, and then get a university education in a field that leads to a career with decent financial security, you can spend part of your time for the rest of your life reading and studying the background of western civilization. You should probably do that anyway, regardless of your formal education.

But if you spend your college years on non-career-specific "liberal" education, you might never achieve any decent level of economic security. I'm an employer, and in 35 years I have never once hired anyone with a non-career-specific university education. (Except for receptionists. I have hired receptionists with B.A. degrees.)

From what I can see, the myth of the "liberal" education has been perpetuated by liberal arts professors to justify their own existence, since they never learned any career skills in college, either.

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