and Culture in Undergraduate
Education: Rhetoric and Reality
Harold T. Shapiro
LIKE AN ARCHAEOLOGIST, I hope with this essay to remove some of the accumulated debris that has distorted our common memory and hampered our clear perception of the undergraduate curriculum, its history, and its relations to the larger society. The "three Cs" of the title represent three of the principal categories that have often competed for influence in shaping the undergraduate curriculum, raising the question of whether the principal focus of undergraduate education should be on cognition, on the production of a certain character type, or on the promotion and nourishment of certain cultural values and traditions. The subtitle reflects my observation that a wide gulf has always existed between the utopian rhetoric of educators, the biting satire of their critics, and the reality of the classroom experience of faculty and students.
My primary objective is to provide a useful, historical frame of reference for discussions regarding the evolution of higher education in America. This is both an overly ambitious effort—since one cannot hope to do more than provide a partial sketch of the