The Purdue University Board of Trustees is adding a civics literacy graduation requirement for undergraduates, beginning with incoming students this fall. The university says the board will vote on the requirement at its public meeting in June.
Eventually, Purdue says the civics literacy program will be a graduation requirement for all undergraduate students. The program will be available and optional for all other students and will lead to a notation of Civics Literacy Proficiency on the student transcript.
“There is plenty of evidence that many in our society are sadly lacking in civics knowledge and unprepared to actively and effectively engage in our democratic processes,” said JoAnn Brouillette, chair of the trustees Academic and Student Affairs Committee. “Many of our faculty have agreed that this is a vital need, and we are grateful for their diligent efforts over the past months to create this program that will serve our students as they enter an ever-changing world.”
Purdue says the program was developed and recommended by a team of its faculty following study and discussion over the past two years among the University Senate, Purdue administrators and members of Purdue’s Board of Trustees Academic and Student Affairs Committee.
“Purdue students have shown they fare better than the national averages when it comes to civic knowledge, but there remains much room for improvement,” said Phillip VanFossen, professor of social studies and director of the Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship in the College of Education. “These curricular and experiential requirements will help our students grow and reach their potential as contributing citizens of our world. Additionally, some studies have found employers value candidates who have this knowledge — who are ‘civics certified,’ if you will.”
The university says the program was created with the goal of adding to the educational experience of its students.
Purdue says it hopes the program will increase student understanding of important contemporary political issues as well as raise their awareness of and options for civic participation.