By Dr. William Vaughan, Core Director, Ashland University
As we all know, one of the goals of our liberal arts core curriculum is to get students to engage in critical thinking and develop essential competencies of the wise person. To act rationally often involves subjecting long held viewpoints to critical scrutiny, and learning how to question the foundation of ideas that often have mythological standing. Interestingly enough, the need to demythologize established opinion about things often includes long-held opinions about the liberal arts themselves, namely the idea that one "cannot do anything" with a liberal arts degree, or that the skills and competencies of liberal arts education are not in demand. It takes the skills of liberal arts thinking to burst the mythologies that surround liberal arts study at the university.
A recent report from the national Center for Higher Education Management Systems, in conjunction with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, works toward providing empirical data assisting the task of dismantling the mythologies that often accompany references to the liberal arts. The comprehensive report shows that employers desire students with liberal arts backgrounds, that employers think general institutional university level critical thinking skills are more important than their undergraduate major, that liberal arts grads are the key to multiple essential professions, that more liberal arts and science majors attain advanced degrees, and the liberal arts majors close earnings gaps with professional majors the further one projects in the future.
This report, and others like it, will be the centerpiece for Ashland University's upcoming review of its undergraduate core curriculum. Our university must make decisions that are based in national data and are consistent with current trends - and many of those trends consistently show the centrality and continuing importance of the liberal arts.
Click here for an overview of the survey results.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
The Humanities and Us
By Heather Mac Donald
In 2011, the University of California at Los Angeles decimated its English major. Such a development may seem insignificant, compared with, say, the federal takeover of health care. It is not. What happened at UCLA is part of a momentous shift in our culture that bears on our relationship to the past—and to civilization itself. Read the entire blog here.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
In the fall of 2012, Ashland University implemented a new section of their core requirements, The Global Passport Strategies. This was done to encourage students to become more globally competent so that they would be prepared for their futures. There are three tracks that students can choose from, each offering different opportunities.
This past semester September Long, a junior, became the first student to complete her GPS requirement through the Study Abroad Track. She has been studying in Prague, Czech Republic at Anglo-American University since late August and has been expanding her knowledge of different cultures.
“Since being abroad, I have really come to appreciate different cultures but also to look at the world from a different perspective and that has been truly enlightening,” said September.
She chose this track because she felt it was a good opportunity to study in a place which held her interest while fulfilling her core requirements.
At the University, she is enrolled in four classes; political science classes and one art class: Global Security, Multiculturalism in Europe, EU Integration and Prague Art & Architecture.
“I chose to take these classes because they give me an opportunity to learn about the history of the Czech Republic, from the founding of Prague Castle to the fall of communism,” she said.
All of these courses transfer back to AU as either core credit or credit for her major.
But for September, the information she has gained from her classes has only scraped the surface of the knowledge she has gained. Some of the most valuable time she has spent has been outside of the classroom.
“I have been traveling as much as I can to other countries in the European Union, and I personally would equate these experiences to what is learned in the classroom here,” she explains. “Traveling has really taught me to be flexible and open-minded. When I travel, I am able to meet new people and hear things from their perspectives and that is not something I get in the classroom.”
Overall, September’s time spent abroad has been exceptionally valuable and she would recommend this option to anyone.
She claims, “This has been such a valuable experience and I will never forget it. It has really been awesome.”
Monday, November 18, 2013
Survey Finds Employers and Public Favor Graduates Who Can Communicate
Polls continue to show that employers want universities to produce people who are able to think. But ‘thinking’ turns out to be an incredibly complex and variegated phenomenon. Being able to think means a lot of different things. The good news is that most people understand this complexity already, and so want people coming out of universities to have a variety of abilities in those ‘different things.’
A recent poll published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and reproduced here, indicated that most Americans, and in particular business leaders, say it is more important that graduates be well-rounded and possess broader capacities, such as problem solving and communication skills, than narrowly focused ‘professional’ training.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Lights, Camera, Action!
JDM 133 - Video and Audio Aesthetics introduces students to the finer points of shooting and editing video. Whether they have previous experience, or have never used a camera before, students will learn the aesthetics of single-camera shooting technique and non-linear video editing. As part of this course, students create a wide-variety of video pieces including music videos and mini-documentaries. These projects allow them to put into practice the visual story-telling concepts that they study. Students in this course have access to the Journalism and Digital Media editing lab, as well as cameras and other equipment, so they have everything they need to both learn and refine their technique.
It has been said that one can never hope to fully understand an event on the same day it occurs. The world is complex, and what one witnesses on video is often but the tip of much larger icebergs floating along. Any truly knowledgeable representation of news events requires immense critical thinking skills and understanding of the aesthetic features of video. This in turn reveals the premises of a liberal arts education.
In such a course, students learn to think and create, not just watch. The student understands what they see through a variety of lenses, from history, ethics, and sociology, to political science. All are brought to bear in understand video aesthetics. Technology and consumer demands have not eclipsed the fundamental intellectual pursuits of journalistic thinking at the heart of video production.
This class is required for all Journalism and Digital Media majors; however, video skills are applicable across multiple fields. Whether you are teaching, marketing an organization, or doing an experiment, video is an integral part of getting your message out. And video shooting and editing skills can really make you stand out when you are looking for that first job. JDM 133 is 3 credits and counts toward the Aesthetics Core. JDM offers two sections every fall and one section every spring, with plans to expand those offerings as demand increases. For more information on this course, contact Gretchen Dworznik, Journalism and Digital Media Department Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.