The Association for Core Texts and Courses

"Supporting Liberal Arts Core Text Curricula Around the World"


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ACTC: A Growing Liberal Arts Professional Association

ACTC has been steadily growing since its inception, thirteen years ago. Since ACTC piloted its ACTC Liberal Arts Institute in 2003 at the University of Dallas and moved it to Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, ACTC has seen enormous growth in activities and participation.

In 2006, ACTC held both its largest annual (spring) conference ever, attracting 290 participants from 120 institutions, but it also held its first-ever (fall) special topics conference: “Trends in the Liberal Arts Core: Bridging the Gap Between the Humanities and Sciences.” We addressed a plenary session of the Association for Integrative Studies on our initiatives in building teams of scientists and humanists in core curricular development, and visited many campuses where faculty and administrators were seeking to build and strengthen core text, liberal arts education. A record five institutions decided to co-sponsor the 2007 conference in Williamsburg, Virginia: Hampden-Sydney College, Averett University, James Madison University, Lynchburg College, and Norfolk State University.

Thanks to the sponsorship and voluntary efforts of faculty and staff from Benedictine University and co-sponsorship of Shimer College and the Great Books Foundation, ACTC saw a record attendance of institutional representatives from North American, South American, and European Institutions, at its annual conference in Chicago. Nearly 120 institutions of higher learning joined us, including institutions from as far away as Colombia and the Netherlands, as well as an increased number of community colleges. ACTC is deeply grateful for the help of our sponsors and co-sponsor in bringing about the conference in one of the leading core text cities on the continent.

Similarly impressive was the first ACTC special topics, “Trends in the Liberal Arts Core” conference, held near the Saint Mary’s campus. “Trends” brought together teams of scientists and humanists from over 50 institutions to discuss a growing trend in liberal arts, core text education: matched or team-taught humanities and science core courses, involving core texts and innovative teaching strategies, which addressed the need of citizens of Canada and the United States to understand and think productively about the relations between the sciences and humanities. ACTC presented the fruits of its 25-year, 81-institution longitudinal study, “Trends in the Liberal Arts Core: A Vision for the 21st Century,” and its three-year NEH Exemplary Education project: “Bridging the Gap Between the Humanities and the Sciences: An Exemplary Education Project in Core Texts.” Teams from Fresno Pacific University, Benedictine University, Kentucky State University, Saint Bonaventure University, James Madison University, Boston University, Drury University, Seton Hall University, and Samford University presented outcomes of both the Trends and Bridging project to conference participants. Other participants presented papers on the advancement of liberal arts education, particularly in Bridging-like projects, at their institutions. A publication is planned.

2004 and 2005 saw steady growth in ACTC activities. The Institute, after a successful piloting at Dallas moved to Saint Mary’s College of California. There, ACTC held the third year of the Bridging the Gap Project, plus is second, core text continental student conference. Cooperating with the Cherokee Heritage Center of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, ACTC successfully applied for two other grants from NEH: "Wiping Away the Tears: Renewing Cherokee Culture and American History through the Cherokee Heritage Center and the Trail of Tears" and a website effort based on Wiping Away the Tears. Both grants brought experts in Cherokee core text history and American history to bear on seminars, curricula, and lesson plans for high school education. Successful conferences in Dallas and Vancouver emphasized ACTC’s appeal to faculty and administrators throughout the continent who wish to build liberal arts, core text courses and programs.

2002-2003 represented a “quantum leap” in ACTC’s growth. We opened the ACTC Liberal Arts Institute at the University of Dallas (UD), through the conception of the Executive Director and the institutional persuasiveness and foresight of Tom Lindsay, provost. ACTC held an international planning meeting to chart the best course of prospective action for the Institute. ACTC won its first major grant from the National Endowment from the Humanities, the largest “Exemplary Education” award ($ 229,000 for three years) from that agency during the year. We inaugurated a new President, Phil Sloan, who immediately began to contribute to the planning meeting and the development and execution of the NEH “Bridging the Gap” grant, as well as delivering a highly regarded inaugural address at our largest conference. ACTC continued its national study of general liberal education, “Trends in the Liberal Arts Core.”

The growth and success of ACTC has depended every year of its existence on the voluntary spirit of women and men dedicated to making the conference come alive for the membership of ACTC. And each year, as institutions offer to sponsor the conference, they build on the successes of previous institutions’ sponsorship. No less was true in 2002-2003 and in the many years that have led to recent success. Mercer University put together a terrific team of volunteers to sponsor our April annual conference. Led by Charlotte (Charlie) Thomas, Mercer’s team of Mary Ann Drake, Randy Harshberger, Gregory Sapp, and Bobbi Shipley were a superb demonstration of dedication to planning for and recruiting for the conference. Similarly engaged were co-sponsoring institutions Oglethorpe University and Oxford College of Emory University. Alan Woolfolk approached ACTC at the conference last year offering to co-sponsor and Gretchen Schulz was equally enthusiastic for her Oxford College at Emory to co-sponsor. Alan headed a team of Oglethorpe faculty who, including Joseph Knippenberg and Jason Wirth, have been long-time attendees and supporters. Gretchen did yeoman’s work, with the support of her Dean Dana Greene and Associate Dean Kent Linville.

Through individual memberships, men and women of ACTC have continued their support as strongly as ever. As if in confirmation of that trend, more than 65 institutions will have contributed in 2006-07 to ACTC, our largest number of institutional contributors yet. Leading among these are five institutions which have formed the ACTC Liberal Arts Institute Consortium: Saint Mary’s College of California, Benedictine University, Pepperdine University and St. Johns College, and Boston University. Without that institutional support the conference and published proceedings that emerge from it would not be possible, and without the Consortium the infrastructure and development of future projects for ACTC institutions would not be possible. In sum, ACTC is thankful and gratified by this strong show of support. Our deepest thanks to all.

ACTC encourages individuals and institutions to support ACTC’s efforts to build better liberal education. Interested parties may contact may follow the links to Institutional Members, to see our list of contributing institutions, or to Join to support ACTC as either an individual, an institution, or as a Consortium member.

Association for Core Texts and Courses & The ACTC Liberal Arts Institute at
Saint Mary's College of California:

1928 Saint Mary's Road, Moraga, CA 94556
Ph: 925 631 8597

ACTC Temple University Office:
1114 W. Berks Street 214 Anderson Hall Intellectual Heritage Program Temple University Philadelphia, PA 19122-6090