Humanities Instruction in the California Community College: Renewing Our Commitment

Educational Policies Committee

Since most students take humanities courses during the first two years of college, the community colleges have a particular responsibility in examining and strengthening the role of the humanities in the curriculum. Guidance is needed for our large number of undecided students "shopping" for courses to take, and a coherent humanities component is needed for our many liberal arts majors.

Recommendations for Community Colleges:

Make sure that there is a significant humanities component in the AA degree and general education transfer requirements.

The new changes in Title 5 require that all courses in the curriculum be reviewed to insure appropriate rigor. As curriculum committees undertake the challenge, they should also examine degree and transfer requirements and through this process determine whether all students, regardless of major, are receiving adequate exposure to the humanities. (The General Education Transfer Curriculum, proposed by the Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates, requires three semesters of Arts and Humanities.)

Develop an institutional general education philosophy of what a student should know to be truly educated and a plan for helping students gain knowledge of the humanities through a coherent program of courses in sequence with appropriate program of courses in sequence with appropriate prerequisites and corequisites.

The Curriculum Committee (or an ad hoc subcommittee) might serve as the steering committee to guide the process for developing a general education philosophy. There should be wide involvement of faculty and instructional administrators in this process. If a clear general education philosophy exists, narrow depart mentalism will be avoided when curriculum committees choose courses from the humanities to be included in general education requirements.

Clearly identify which courses are appropriate for students who will take only a few courses in the humanities.

Many high-unit majors will allow students limited exposure to courses outside the major field, so it is extremely important to guide these students toward humanities courses of a general nature. Care must be taken to promote a balance between breadth and depth. Interdisciplinary general education courses serve this purpose well as long as substance and rigor, rather than trendiness, are stressed.

Be sure that instruction in the humanities includes reading writing, speaking, and critical analysis components well integrate into the subject matter being taught.

The evaluation process can be used to examine the state of instruction in the humanities. Professional development resources should be employed to develop teaching skills and further knowledge of these disciplines, and increased support of humanities instruction through libraries and learning resource centers should be encouraged.

Work to improve articulation with high schools and universities in humanities instruction.

The Diane Ravitch and Chester E. Finn, Jr. report on the first national assessment of history and literature, “What Do Our l7-Year-Olds Know?” reveals that the decline of humanities in higher education is reflected in high schools. Through enhanced articulation by such means as the Humanities Competency Expectation Statement of the Intersegmental Senates, high schools, community colleges, and universities must work together to plan a unified and coherent humanities curriculum for their students

Publication file