Brief

AAC&U advocates for 'liberal learning' even as higher ed transforms

Dive Brief:

  • The Association of American Colleges and Universities has been in the minority of industry trade groups supporting various innovations to traditional higher ed, but every step of the way, the group has argued for the critical nature of holistic education programs.
  • The AAC&U believes a “liberal education” should give students the opportunity to engage in in-depth study and end their programs with broad knowledge of the world, learning the skills needed to manage complexity, diversity, and change.
  • Inside Higher Ed reports that the Liberal Education and America’s Promise program has been among the association’s most successful, attempting to break down the gap between narrow vocational programs for some students and well-rounded, intellectual training for others.

Dive Insight:

The soon-to-retire head of the AAC&U, Carol Geary Schneider, has said competency based programs can be powerful if they incorporate applied learning, and she has advocated innovation in online learning, cautioning against simply moving the lecture online. The latest push to “unbundle” the college degree, letting students earn mini-credentials here and there, so far doesn’t seem to fit with the group’s focus on a liberal education. Unbundled courses don’t give students a well-rounded education unless they add up, Schneider has said, also criticizing a focus on completion that leaves quality out of the conversation. A credential in that case isn’t necessarily better no matter how it was earned.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed