Business In Society
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Business in Society Blog

Can updated liberal arts studies help de-fuse cultural wars? Stanford University’s School of Humanities/Sciences is trying it with a new core curriculum

To help defuse the current culture wars and develop student citizenship, Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences is introducing a new first-year core curriculum, “Civic, Liberal and Global Education”.


The curriculum “seeks to celebrate the diversity of students … while incorporating many of the important political and ethical aspects of citizenship…”


The first quarter included “Why College?”, a course on the value and role of a liberal arts education.  The current quarter examines “Citizenship in the 21st Century”.  Coming in the spring semester: the course, “Global Perspectives” with “examinations of issues that are global in scope like climate change and immigration”.


In presenting the rationale for the new core curriculum, school faculty leaders Debra Satz and Dan Edelstein explained its model for addressing current social tensions and cultural war divisiveness.    (Pay wall)


“It is rarely a priority of employers or for job seekers … to promote the skills of active listening, mutual reasoning and open mindedness… We need to reinvest in it…. universities have a moral and civic duty to teach students how to consider and weigh contrary viewpoints and how to accept differences of opinion as a healthy feature of a diverse society. Disagreement is in the nature of democracies.


“By structuring its curriculum around important topics rather than canonical texts, and by focusing on the cultivation of democratic skills such as listening, reasonableness and humility, we have sought to steer clear of the cultural issues that doomed Western Civ…. it is  our belief that by restoring a common curricular foundation centered on democratic skills our students need to live in a diverse society, they will turn to more constructive ways to engage with those whom they disagree than censorship or cancellation.”


A new dimension or encore for liberal arts studies?