By not paying careful attention to purposes, faculties have also ignored important aims of undergraduate education over extended periods of time. For example, following the Civil War, most colleges (with the notable exception of church-related institutions) gradually withdrew from any attempt to teach their students to think about ethical questions of the kind that commonly arise in private and professional life. Fortunately, after an eclipse of almost a century, courses on moral reasoning have finally begun to make a modest comeback. Yet most students in America still graduate without taking any classes of this kind.(1)
Most colleges likewise fail to make any deliberate, collective effort to prepare their students to be active, knowledgeable citizens in a democracy, even though civic apathy and ignorance of public affairs are widely regarded as serious problems in America. Only a minority of undergraduates ever take a basic course on American government, while fewer than 10 percent complete a course on the perennial problems of social justice and political philosophy that underlie so many issues of government policy.
Over the past century, then, two well-known educational goals with roots extending back to ancient Greece have been allowed to languish on most college campuses without much notice, let alone careful debate.