Stanford Students Call for Western Civilization Requirement

The Stanford Review, an independent undergraduate political magazine, has issued a manifesto in favor of reinstating Western civilization requirements for Stanford undergraduates.

“Liberals cheered and conservatives howled when President Obama unveiled his executive order on immigration. But even the President’s most zealous critics cannot contest that the American creed transcends “what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship.” Instead, we define ourselves by the ideals we cherish; by the values, such as equal opportunity and individual initiative, that President Obama invoked because he knew they would resonate with millions of diverse Americans.

The fifty-six signatories of the Declaration of Independence did not conjure these values from midair. Centuries of history forged them. A story of Western Civilization is a history of ideals that guide the Western world, and increasingly, the entire globe. The Western narrative, exalted by virtue and shamed by sin, contextualizes our society.

Western education should tell this narrative. Knowledge of Western values, systems, and institutions prepares students to live, work, and study in Western society, and empowers students to change it when necessary. But Stanford University, an institution purportedly at the pinnacle of higher education, fails its students. Stanford does not require a humanities course that contextualizes our society, and the ramifications transcend the Farm. Our alumni innovating in Silicon Valley, making policy in Washington, and investing on Wall Street lack the historical knowledge necessary to grasp their actions’ implications and responsibly shape the future.”

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