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Western Civilization: Part I (Reexamination)

Many of our peer institutions have been reexamining or redesigning how Western Civilization or Culture is taught. In particular, how it is defined as part of the core curriculum. There are books, studies and articles, both scholarly and in popular literature, on both sides of the argument as to the relevance of teaching Western or World history/cultures. This will be a three-part blog post; Part I will cover the opponents, Part II the proponents, and Part III some examples of programs at peer institutions.

Part I: Reexamination

It is misleading to create these posts in such a binary fashion. A better way might have been to introduce the current discussions around how modern culture is defined and explained. Kwame Appiah made waves in the twitter and social media world by publishing an article (it was a speech he gave) titled “There is no such thing as Western Culture”. The article is not a diatribe against Western Culture, but a description of how the concept became part of the language without acknowledging the contributions of many cultures that were also present on the European continent. There also is an article he wrote that further explains how culture has been defined.

In addition to this idea there are many articles about the benefits of Experiential Education or Problem based learning to allow for a more interdisciplinary and engaged approach to creating curriculum. There are also arguments that just enough course choice can lead to more student retention and successful learning outcomes.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “Misunderstanding cultures Islam and the West.” Philosophy & Social Criticism 38, no. 4-5 (2012): 425-433.

Appiah, Kwame A. “There is no such Thing as Western Civilisation.” Guardian. Accessed 1/12/17, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/09/western-civilisation-appiah-reith-lecture.

Schneider, Carol Geary. “Toward the Engaged Academy.” Liberal Education 87, no. 1 (Winter2001 2001): 18. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed January 11, 2017).

Ackerman, David S., and Barbara L. Gross. “How many choices are good? Measurement of the effects of course choice on perceptions of a marketing option.” Journal of Marketing Education 28, no. 1 (2006): 69-80.

Source: http://library.providence.edu/fhertr/index.php/2017/01/12/western-civilization-part-i/