Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2018


Since the Colonial period, educational institutions in the United Stateshave been tasked with developing character as well as academic skill. Whilein earlier epochs such character education would have been explicitly tied tomorality as defined within Christian contexts, today's character educationtakes on a more secular form, focusing on developing skills related to socialresponsibility. By definition, social responsibility is "a personal investmentin the well-being of people and the planet" (Berman 15). Despite the fact thatmany feel that public schools and universities are ideal sites for this type oftraining, research has found that instructors are often reluctant to discusscontroversial issues within their classrooms because of the potential negativeramifications. A recent study found that only "11 % of students reported spendingtime in their classes on 'problems facing the country today"' (Wolk 667).Further research has found that such issues "receive little attention in schoolsbecause in the culture of schooling, and the culture of society, many controversialtopics and issues are taboo" (Evans, Avery, and Pederson 295). Ultimately,these cultural taboos "impose severe disabilities on teaching andthinking;' impacting the decisions instructors make concerning course contentand classroom management (Evans, Avery, and Pederson 295). Resistance-perceived or real-from students, parents, or administrators result incurricula that are divorced from contemporary events pertaining to socialinequality. As a result of this self-censorship, students exit the educationalsphere ill prepared to be active citizens of the world.