Higher Education Civics Priorities

The National Association of Scholars upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.

Higher Education Civics Priorities

K-12 Civics education cannot be fixed alone. State legislators must also reform undergraduate and graduate level instruction. We have therefore  produced a list of Higher Education Civics Priorities, to complement our Model K-12 Civics Code. Among these Priorities, the most important is the American History Act (AHA), which adds an American History and Government general education requirement to public universities. We have phrased the remainder of these recommendations as goals rather than in legislative language.

Establish Required Undergraduate American History and Government Course

The American History Act (AHA) adds an American History and Government general education requirement to public universities. We provide two versions of the AHA. The first, modeled on existing requirements in 8 states, requires only one course (3 credits) in American History and American Government. The second, modeled on existing requirements in Texas, requires four courses (12 credits). Both versions include syllabus transparency requirements, so that state policymakers, the public, and students all can see how well individual classes fulfill the legal requirement to teach American History and American Government.

Download a PDF of the American History Act

Use Dual-Course Credit and Core Transfer Curricula to Forward Civics Reform

Many states allow high school students to take courses for college credits, either as dual courses taught in public K-12 schools or as dual credit courses in community colleges. State legislators should make sure that every American History and Government course added to the public university General Education Requirements are also available as dual credit courses and integrated into the Core Transfer Curricula. State legislators should ensure that the courses possess rigorous standards, forbid action civics or activism, and have transparent syllabi. They should also establish mutual recognition between states of rigorous dual-course American History and Government courses, so that students in one state will be able to apply American History and Government course credits to public universities in another state.

Require Civics Literacy Tests for College Students

States should extend civics literacy assessments to the undergraduate level. States should require all incoming students at public universities to pass a civics literacy test, for which a passing grade on the high school civics literacy test can substitute. Students who have not passed that test must take a remedial civics literacy course; they still must pass the civics literacy test before graduation. Each state should also require all graduating students at public universities to take a more rigorous civics literacy test, not least to ensure that the higher education establishment provides its students rigorous American History and Government courses.

Model Law: Florida Stat. § 1007.25

Reform General Education Requirements

Universities have been adding general education requirements such as Civic Engagement, Diversity or Social Justice, which require students to study action civics and radical propaganda. These requirements force students to pay the salaries of social justice advocates and make it impossible for students to avoid their courses. States should limit total General Education Requirements to 40 credit hours, include American History and Government among the General Education Requirements, and establish a comprehensive list of General Education Requirements that includes no action civics, no activism, no Critical Race Theory, and no propaganda requirements such as Diversity or Social Justice. States should also prohibit maneuvers such as allowing a course to satisfy both a Social Sciences and a Diversity requirement, since this effectively substitutes the Diversity requirement for the Social Sciences requirement.

Establish a School of Intellectual Freedom

States should require their flagship public universities to establish autonomous, stand-alone Schools of Intellectual Freedom, dedicated to intellectual freedom, the Western Heritage, and the American Heritage, directly funded by state legislature appropriations. The School would house undergraduate and graduate programs in Western Heritage and American Heritage. This School would break the progressive monopoly on higher education and provide courses on American History and Government both for undergraduates and for teachers seeking licensure.

Model Law: Utah Code Ann. § 53B-29-302 [Civic Thought and Leadership Initiative]

Reform Teaching Licensure

Education schools abuse their monopoly on teaching licensure to train teachers to teach social justice propaganda and action civics. States should establish teaching licensure pathways that allow teachers to avoid education schools and that establish a preference for subject-matter specialists over education majors. States should also require teachers in state public schools who teach English or Social Studies to pass six (6) survey courses in Western Heritage, American History, and American Government. These courses should include no action civics or activism. The state should pass further detailed requirements to ensure that radical activists cannot subvert the intent of this teaching licensure reform.