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Open Access Publications from the University of California

General Education in the 21st Century: A Report of the University of California Commission on General Education


In this report, the Commission on General Education in the 21st Century—a panel of University of California faculty and administrators—issues a call for renewed attention to general education in research universities, highlighting specific reforms for University of California campuses. In addition to analyzing the historical, institutional, and cultural contexts of general education in the United States, it acknowledges the forces that constrain investment in general education and lists recommendations to improve general education in the face of these constraints. Unlike other recent studies of undergraduate education, which have focused on individual institutions, this report analyzes potential improvements to general education in research universities generally. The Commission, funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was co-chaired by Michael Schudson (University of California, San Diego and the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University) and Neil Smelser (University of California, Berkeley). Its 25 members included representatives from all nine University of California undergraduate campuses as well as authorities on higher education from Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton.

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