Asee peer logo

Liberal Education: A Survey Of Goals

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Philosophy of Engineering Education: Epistemology and Ethics

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.853.1 - 13.853.26



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Mark Valenzuela University of Evansville

visit author page

Mark Valenzuela is Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Evansville. He received both his PhD and MS degrees from Cornell University in the field of structural engineering. He received his BE degree from Vanderbilt University. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Indiana.

visit author page


James Allen University of Evansville

visit author page

James Allen is Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Evansville. He received his PhD from the University of Cincinnati, his MS degree from the University of Oklahoma and his BS degree from the University of Missouri Rolla. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Ohio.

visit author page


Brian Swenty University of Evansville

visit author page

Brian Swenty is Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering at the University of Evansville and chair of its Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. He received both his PhD and BS degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri Rolla and his MS degree from the University of Florida. He is a registered professional engineer in several states.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Liberal Education: A Survey of Goals


In the fall of 2006 the authors’ institution started a process of re-evaluating its general education program. And like many other masters-level institutions, the university’s general education program was a curriculum common to all programs on campus, whether in the college of arts and sciences, engineering, education or business. As often happens at smaller universities, engineering faculty at the university had the opportunity (and took advantage of the opportunity) to help shape the general education curriculum, balancing the needs of its engineering students with the mission of the university to produce liberally educated men and women. This paper examines how 33 institutions try to resolve this tension of particular professional needs and overarching liberal education needs in their general education programs. Institutions in the study were chosen from the 2007 US News and World Report rankings of colleges and universities, focusing on high ranking schools in the category of undergraduate engineering programs and regional masters level universities with an engineering program.

Previous studies in this area have focused primarily on the percentage of course work in general education for the engineering student, recognizing the constraints in an undergraduate engineering curriculum that prepares students for practice in four years. Secondarily, previous studies have focused on the courses (English, History, Art, etc) that comprise a general education program. In contrast, with the shift in assessment from a checklist of courses to an examination of outcomes, the study presented in this paper focuses primarily on the stated mission and goals of an institution’s general education program as well as on the outcomes that relate to the general education component of the institution’s engineering programs. Further, given the emphasis in assessment on transparency and public accountability, the institutions’ websites were used as the primary sources of information for the mission of the general education program at the institution, whether through an online catalog or separate webpage for their general education program. It has been found that the most common goals for general education programs include writing and communication as well as civic responsibility. However, the survey of programs reveals other underlying issues that engineering programs may wish to consider as they provide input into the general education programs of their respective institutions, including globalism and diversity, the interconnectedness of learning areas, and attitudes for life-long learning. The results of the survey are examined in light of two perspectives, one from outside the profession (Association of American Colleges and Universities, College Learning for a New Global Century) and another from inside the profession (American Society of Civil Engineers, Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century, 2nd edition, Draft 8).


In the 2006-2007 academic year, the University of Evansville, under the guidance of its General Education Subcommittee of the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee, undertook a re- evaluation of the general education program requirements that all its undergraduates must fulfill to earn a degree in one of its four schools: arts and sciences, education and health sciences, business administration, and engineering and computer science. In addition to focus group

Valenzuela, M., & Allen, J., & Swenty, B. (2008, June), Liberal Education: A Survey Of Goals Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3604

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015