The Purdue Board of Trustees has announced that it is going to vote to adopt a civics literacy graduation requirement at its June 2021 meeting. The requirement, as written about in Purdue News, will include all West Lafayette undergraduate students:
- passing an exam, which they can take as many times as they like, (which is being put together by a working group of Professors Van Fossen, McCann, and Browning with help from an external research firm);
- AND taking one of 3 options:
- participating in a specific C-SPAN module series
- attending campus events on civics literacy for an equivalent number of contact hours
- participating in a 3-cr course on a list of accepted courses.
This appears to be the same proposal that the University Senate voted down by an almost 2/3 vote in April 2020. After this vote, a subset of the original working group of faculty (Profs. Van Fossen, McCann, and Browning) was tasked by the Office of the Provost to fill out a substantive framework for gauging civics proficiency, but had been doing so with the understanding that it would be an optional transcript designation.
Universities exist for the purposes of teaching and research. While subject to the authority of the Board, the Faculty are in charge of teaching and research, including determining the curriculum and graduation requirements. The Senate is the representative decision-making body of the Faculty.
We should follow our own governance processes to bring about curricular and graduation requirement changes, especially on something as important as civics literacy, and especially when it educates about governance. What does it say about the import of civics literacy when the Board ignores a vote?
The Senate should approve curricular and graduation requirements before the Board votes on them.