Trustees | General Education

Civic literacy on campus

THE ADVOCATE   |  September 19, 2009 by Editorial

U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s top colleges and universities got a lot of attention recently when LSU’s Baton Rouge campus retained its spot—just barely—among the magazine’s list of top-tier universities.

But a new report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni suggests many of the institutions getting a thumbs-up from U.S. News & World Report are lacking in what they teach students about American history and government.

ACTA has conservative leanings, and one of its stated missions is promoting more emphasis on core subjects in higher education, such as history, literature and writing.

In a new report, “What Will They Learn,” ACTA concluded that none of the top 20 national universities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, require students to take a broad course in American history or government. Nationally, only 11 out of 100 leading universities ensure that students graduate having taken at least one broad course in American history and government. LSU is listed among those universities that do not have such a requirement. ACTA maintains that such requirements are important in boosting the nation’s civic literacy.

More information about the report is available at

Even those who do not agree with ACTA’s political agenda, such as Stanley Fish, who blogs about campus life for The New York Times, have found the conclusions in ACTA’s report worthy of thoughtful consideration. We hope the report inspires a meaningful discussion about what college students should learn before they leave campus.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

Discover More