Fragmenting the Curriculum
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Faculty members rarely pay much attention to course offerings outside their own fields. A few years ago, however, a colleague and I looked over our university’s course schedule in a more comprehensive way. What struck us was not the politicization of some courses—though that is real, and has become more widespread1—but the fragmentation of the curriculum. There are still introductory survey courses, and there are still the kinds of courses—on Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Kant, and other central thinkers, for example—that used to form the bulk of university education. But it isn’t always easy to find them. The vast majority of courses, even at introductory levels, are more specific, narrowly tailored to fit a faculty member’s research interests rather than an undergraduate student’s needs.2
Survey courses, in particular, used to constitute the heart of a college education. No matter what majors students might choose, they were bound to encounter the core, foundational texts of a variety...