The 2018 Network for Academic Renewal General Education and Assessment conference will meet in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our republic. It will provide a fitting opportunity to examine how some of the key issues that bedeviled attendees at the Constitutional Convention 231 years ago—issues such as equity, justice, and integrity in thought, word, and deed, as well as responsibility for the common good—continue to elude us even as they inform our democratic ideals and our highest aspirations for general education.
At its most powerful, general education is more than the sum of its parts—more than a list of learning outcomes or a collection of programs, courses, and credit hours. Indeed, the value of general education lies in its centrality within the undergraduate experience as a place where all college students can gain the breadth, depth and integrative learning skills and dispositions they will need to discern fact from fiction, to realize strength in diversity, and to become agents of the principles and practices that our founders envisioned. General education is where students should learn how to think critically, engage across differences, and collaborate with others to examine intractable issues such as hunger, poverty, human rights violations, and refugee and other migrations, as well as their economic, geopolitical, and environmental contexts. Given general education’s capacious and compelling opportunites, how can colleges and universities bridge the curricular and cocurricular components of student and faculty assets and interests to realize its potential depth in learning outcomes and social impact?
“General Education and Assessment: Foundations for Democracy” will focus on how educators throughout all sectors of higher education can promote a coherent, seamless undergraduate experience that champions evidence, values integrity, embraces diversity, requires collaboration, and ensures equity in practice and results—an experience where students understand that the value and purposes of general education, the major, and learning outside of the classroom are one and the same.
Building on the 2017 General Education and Assessment conference program’s examination of design thinking, the conference will challenge participants to envision and take steps toward generating creative high-quality teaching and learning models that explicitly span traditional structural, curricular, and co-curricular boundaries and connect to preparation for work, citizenship, and life in a complex world.
Please join us next February in Philadelphia to lend your expertise and voice to these critical conversations.