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A Well Rounded Education?

June 14, 2009 | NeW Staff

What constitutes a well rounded education in college today? Most colleges and universities have answered this question by changing major requirements to include classes that focus on  “non-western perspectives” or  global development, feminist theory, African-American political thought, social theory and the list continues. 

What is markedly missing from this list are classes on conservatism.  Peter Berkowitz, senior fellow at Standord University’s Hoover Institution makes this very signficant point in his recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal.  He argues,


“There is no legitimate intellectual justification for this omission. The exclusion of conservative ideas from the curriculum contravenes the requirements of a liberal education and an objective study of political science.”

This then begs the question, can an insitution of higher learning claim students receive a well-rounded education when a concept as broad as conservatism is blatently left out?  To me it seems the answer is a resounding “no” but many academics disagree.  Whether out of their own political agenda or fear that students may actually find conservatism appealing, many professors on college campuses refuse to teach the subject.  As such, students fail to learn about the teachings of Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Russell Kirk, and Friedrich Hayek.  Berkowitz further states,


“Without an introduction to the conservative tradition in America and the conservative dimensions of modern political philosophy, political science students are condemned to a substantially incomplete and seriously unbalanced knowledge of their subject. Courses on this tradition should be mandatory for students of politics; today they are not even an option at most American universities.”

Seeing this void, many college conservatives seek out other means to educate themselves in conservatism.  One way is to start a NeW chapter at your school.  By starting a NeW chapter, conservative college women can read books by conservative authors such as Dinesh D’Souza, Kate O’Beirne, and Russell Kirk.  NeW members can also bring modern conservative thinkers and speakers to their campus to educate the larger university community about different conservative principles. 

But, this learning cannot stop here.  As Berkowitz argues, there should be a greater push for colleges and universities to offer classes on conservatism. He concludes,


“In the near term, giving conservative ideas their due will have the concrete and immediate benefit of advancing liberal education’s proper and commendable goal, which is the formation of free and well-furnished minds.”

Do you see this void at your school?  If so, how have you supplemented your education?  Should students, especially those majoring in political science, be forced to look outside their college in order to receive a well-rounded education?

By Kathleen

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