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Title:Cooperation without consensus: national discussions and local implementation in general education reform, 1930–1960
Author(s):Zayed, Kevin Shady
Director of Research:Span, Christopher M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Span, Christopher M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Anderson, James D.; Hutcheson, Philo A; Cain, Timothy R.
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgnz & Leadersh
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):General Education
Liberal Education
History of Education
History of Higher Education
Curriculum Reform
Abstract:This study explores the general education movement of 1930-1960—a movement devoted to revising the content, and methods, of reforming the first two years of postsecondary study for undergraduates. It begins by noting that much of the extant literature focuses on the curricular statements produced by Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago as well as their assumed influence upon other institutions of higher learning—including historically black colleges and universities, women’s colleges, religiously affiliated colleges, land grants, and community colleges—during this time period. This study complicates this reading of the movement by arguing that the curricular statements of Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago were unable to achieve curricular reform on their respective campuses and were deemed to be unacceptable by institutions across the nation. The study asks, then, if the curricular theories of these prestigious universities were unable to create and/or sustain a fixed body of curricular content on their own campuses, is it likely that they influenced the curriculums of other institutions across the country? And more important, if the curricular structures in place at these institutions were constantly evolving—driven by faculty and student concerns, local context, the politics of curricular compromise, and not representing a linear, top-down method of reform—what method of reform did these universities and other institutions of higher learning look to, for achieving tangible and sustainable mechanisms of reform? This study then offers a new way of seeing curricular reform in the general education movement by relying on the lenses provided by an exploration of three cooperative studies of general education—or studies funded by philanthropic groups in which a number of institutions and their representatives cooperate with each other and educational researchers to spur reform of their own curricular measures. The three cooperative studies of general education focused on are the Eight-Year Study (1930-1942); the Cooperative Study in General Education (1938-1947), and the California Study of General Education in the Junior College (1948-1952). Using insights from an extensive exploration of the cooperative studies, this study argues that reform in the general education movement operated in a “matrix of influence” that involved educational research, philanthropy, and (both inter- and intra-) institutional “cooperation without consensus,” rather than a top-down channeling of reform from prestigious institutions. Further, this led to a cyclical and iterative interplay between national discussions and local implementation that changed both the content of general education and the methods of its constant reform. These processes shaped the way people talked about, implemented, and executed general education measures on their campuses. Through these processes, words became ideas, and ideas eventually became curricular structures implemented at the most basic levels. These reforms were almost always sensitive to local context and were often advertised to the public as being politically, economically, socially, and culturally expedient and relevant.
Issue Date:2016-11-30
Rights Information:© 2016 Kevin Shady Zayed. All rights reserved.
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-03-01
Date Deposited:2016-12

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