Christian Education

It’s time to get rid of the humanities ‹Pepperdine Graphic


Art by Ally Armstrong

Each Pepperdine undergraduate student is required to complete 19 general education courses, which equates to 63 or 64 units and is overkill, according to Seaver College’s general education plan. The average general education curriculum at a four-year university is 42 to 60 units, according to Pearson Accelerated Pathways.

Not only does Pepperdine require more general education courses than most schools, but the unnecessary inclusion of three compulsory sequential humanities courses in the curriculum is also absurd. The curriculum should be changed to replace the humanities with more inclusive and culturally diverse courses.

Seaver College and Associate Dean of Curriculum and General Education Paul Begin have been working on the general education plan since 2019 in the hope of growing cultural awareness.

The three compulsory Christianity and culture courses in the general curriculum of a Christian university are not the problem. Humanities classes are not an integral part of Pepperdine’s Christian identity like religion is. So why do students have to take three courses?

Humanities classes often overlap with what is taught in religion classes, as students learn about how religion influences Western art, literature, and society. The problem is, they undeniably teach history through the prism of a white man, illustrating art and literature produced predominantly by white people.

“The student who completes GE Global Civilizations will be able to demonstrate openness and empathy towards global communities and through transformed self-awareness and knowledge of cultures outside of the West,” according to the learning outcomes of the general education program.

Pepperdine claiming that it is a school that “celebrates diversity” seems dishonest when all students are required to take three courses that teach a narrow and undiversified perspective of Western culture. The lack of cultural inclusion in humanities courses is one reason for omitting them entirely from Pepperdine’s curriculum.

A 2011 study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni assessed the general education plans of 718 colleges across the country, including public and private institutions. The study assigned a grade to each school based on the number of the seven core subjects that are required during a student’s time at university – an A grade implying a required 6 to 7, a Note B from 4 to 5 courses and so on. The more general education classes are required, the higher the grade.

Subjects included composition, literature, foreign language, mathematics, US government or history, economics, and the natural or physical sciences. Pepperdine got a B grade for the five courses she requires.

What the survey did not take into account were general education requirements exclusive to religious universities, as Pepperdine requires nine units of Christianity and Culture. Although these units are not compulsory in public institutions, faith and religion are the basis of Pepperdine’s identity.

According to Forbes, only 17% of colleges in the United States today require Western Civilization, also known as Humanities courses. According to Inside Higher Ed, former president of the American Historical Association and professor of history at Princeton University, Anthony Grafton, said Western Civilization classes were more appropriate for students of the 1960s, but that ‘they were not of the same interest to students today.

If Pepperdine insists on requiring students to take humanities classes, there should be only one. Students pay thousands of dollars to take three repetitive and unnecessary humanities courses that take time away from their major-specific and more diverse courses.

While omitting the three compulsory humanities courses altogether from the general education curriculum would also be beneficial in lightening the workload for nine-unit students, the ability to provide a wider range of courses such as Afro studies. -American and Women’s Studies that teach about different cultures and histories. would also be an advantageous option.

The lack of diversity characteristic of humanities courses is outdated and deaf in the context of larger subjects that could be taught instead.

Pepperdine’s official statement on diversity explains that “Our faith cherishes the sacred dignity of every human being and celebrates diversity as a true representation of the love and creative expression of God.”

Claims of diversity should not be made when the only compulsory courses do not reflect the messages of cultural inclusion they send. If these nine units are necessary to make up the program, humanities courses should instead be replaced by ethnic studies courses to promote a more academic view of Pepperdine’s alleged stance on diversity.


Follow the graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic

Send an email to Sarah Best: [email protected]

Pepperdine Graphic Media

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