How can students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln be best prepared for twenty-first-century challenges? That question focused the thinking of the committee of faculty, staff, students and administrators charged with creating UNL's new general education program. To formulate a response, the group listened to those within the university, and it tapped into external perspectives by participating in current national conversations about general education. A small contingent of faculty and administrators attended the Association of American Colleges and Universities' (AAC&U) General Education Institute, where they exchanged ideas with national experts and other institutions on the path to creating or revising their general education programs.
One of AAC&U's initiatives is Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP), recognized nationally for its focus on quality student learning. LEAP inspired architects of UNL's new Achievement-Centered Education (ACE) as they began to design the new general education program. AAC&U's seminal report, College Learning for the New Global Century (2007), describes the importance of preparing students for today's realities and world they face upon graduation.
The report reminds us that one need not look far to see major shifts occurring in many facets of our lives—economic and political power, global interdependence, cross-cultural interactions, environmental challenges, civic engagement, and technological and scientific innovations. Drawing upon research collected from many sources including educational, business, community, and policy leaders, the publication presents forward-looking thinking about what graduates need to know and should be able to do. More importantly, it recommends sweeping changes for educational reform with its "Essential Learning Outcomes", and it issues a challenge to institutions of higher learning to set high expectations for contemporary general education.
"Through its Achievement-Centered Education (ACE) program, UNL has taken an important step to ensuring that its students get the kind of education they need to succeed in today's world. It is gratifying to see how UNL has adapted for its own mission and students the vision of learning presented in AAC&U's Liberal Education and America's Promise initiative. The LEAP initiative is built on the belief that all undergraduate students, regardless of their major, must achieve a set of essential learning outcomes in order to succeed in the workforce and in advanced programs like law, business and the health professions. Having college graduates achieve these outcomes is also important to maintaining our nation's vitality in an interdependent global economy, and increasing our capacity to address current and unknown future challenges."
At UNL, we believe that we're working aggressively to meet the national challenge with our new Achievement-Centered Education (ACE) program. Compare LEAP's Essential Learning Outcomes with ACE's Institutional Objectives and its 10 corresponding learning outcomes. You'll find ACE builds upon the foundation established by LEAP.