A Special Note from Thomas K. Lindsay, Editor in Chief of SeeThruEdu.com:

Twenty-five years ago, Allan Bloom published his bestseller, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students.  His book gave rise to numerous studies over the years testifying to the fact that, since the 1960s, American universities have abandoned a required core curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences.  Courses in Western Civilization, American Government, and American History were among the casualties.  The consequences of this move have been nothing less than disastrous, as a landmark study of collegiate learning published last year testifies: Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, tested the learning of college students across the country.  It found that 36 percent of students show little to no increase in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing skills after four years in college.   Adrift finds that certain majors do better than others.  The lowest scoring majors are business, communications, education, and social work.  The highest scores come from the humanities, natural and social sciences, and mathematics–the very fields whose required study was diluted when universities jettisoned a required core curriculum (which is not to be mistaken with its present-day impostors: “general education” and “distribution” requirements).  

But one university is taking a step to reverse the decline in the study of Western Civilization: On Thursday, October 11, Texas Tech University launched its Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.  It is headed by Dr. Steven Balch (see bio, below), a scholar who has devoted the bulk of his career to the fight to restore excellence in higher education. 

As described in its brochure (reprinted below), “The Institute is developing a scholarly program organized around a series of intellectual projects, each promoting a particular line of investigation. Implemented over time, these projects will pursue inquiries into topics like:
• What is Western civilization?
• Liberty, Individualism, and Progress
• The Judeo-Christian Tradition
• America in Western civilization
• Western civilization’s Compact with Reason.”

We at SeeThruEdu.com extend our heartiest congratulations as well as our heartfelt gratitude to Texas Tech for its vision and courage in launching the Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.

We can only hope that other universities will take inspiration from Lubbock, and go and do likewise. 

–TKL

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(What follows is taken from the brochure for TTU’s new Institute for the Study of Western Civilization):

THE IMPORTANCE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
Western civilization has remade the world. Most of the West’s inhabitants live lives of which their ancestors could only dream: doubly long, rich in diet, teeming with comforts and diversions, and, most of all, endowed with the gift of liberty – not just for a privileged few, but for the many.
Strange to say, Western civilization as a distinct phenomenon – what it is, how it emerged, where it is going, and why its nature has been so promethean? – has ceased to be a major focus of academic attention. Reviving interest in these questions is vital to ensuring America’s, and the world’s, continued well-being, for unless we understand Western civilization’s uniqueness and fragility, we put ourselves in grave danger of losing its blessings.
By establishing The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Texas Tech University is taking the lead in returning the remarkable phenomenon that is Western civilization to its proper place as a core subject of academic study.

 

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
As part of the Honors College of Texas Tech University, The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization seeks to foster research and discussion among the university’s faculty about the nature, origins, and future of the West; encourage the development of courses and programs on Western civilization and its classic texts; and bring to Texas Tech scholars for whom the study of Western civilization as a phenomenon is a major concern.
The Institute also seeks to serve American education as a whole via conferences, publications, a website, and online networks linking scholars and students at every academic level. There is currently no major American university committed to propagating the study of our civilization throughout academe. In establishing The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Texas Tech makes that commitment.
The Institute will engage the public-at-large through talks and presentations to civic groups, web based resources for independent learning, and field seminars for Texas Tech alumni and others interested in deepening their knowledge of Western civilization and its realization in the United States.
The Institute is developing a scholarly program organized around a series of intellectual projects, each promoting a particular line of investigation. Implemented over time, these projects will pursue inquiries into topics like:
• What is Western civilization?
• Liberty, Individualism, and Progress
• The Judeo-Christian Tradition
• America in Western civilization
• Western civilization’s Compact with Reason
The Institute takes up these inquiries in a spirit of appreciation for Western civilization’s vast achievements, tempered by the recognition that Western civilization has, like all human ventures, been marred by failings sometimes equal in depth to the heights it has scaled. In its work, the Institute will also recognize the great accomplishments of other civilizations and cultures, aiming through scholarly comparison to learn from them and, in that process, learn more about the West itself.
Finally, the Institute will provide forums for all those interested in Western civilization – whatever their view of its history and nature – to engage in the reasoned, open, and informed debate that ennobles academic life and should always be at its heart.

About Dr. Steven H. Balch:

Before coming to Texas Tech, Dr. Stephen H. Balch served for twenty-five years as founding president and chairman of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), a Princeton, New Jersey based organization of higher education professionals dedicated to the traditional principles of liberal arts education.

During his years at the NAS, Dr. Balch worked to encourage universities and colleges across America to develop new academic programming dealing with Western civilization and the study of free institutions. He also played a major role in the founding of a variety of other academic organizations devoted to enriching scholarship and public discussion of higher education issues. In 2007, his work was honored by the National Humanities Medal, bestowed by President George W. Bush in a White House ceremony.

Dr. Balch holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. Between 1974 and 1987, he served on the faculty of the Government and Public Administration Department of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York. In 2009, he received the Jeane Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award. Dr. Balch has written on higher education issues for a variety of publications and co-authored “The Vanishing West: 1964-2010,” a report which documents the decline of the study of Western civilization in America’s universities.

CONTACT
Stephen H. Balch, Ph.D.
Director
The Institute for the Study of
Western Civilization
Box 41017 | Lubbock, TX 79409-1017
T 806.742.1828 | F 806.742.1805
steve.balch@ttu.edu
WESTERNCIV.TTU.EDU