File it under “possible ways to save the republic”? Purdue University may soon require that all undergraduates, from art historians to wildlife biologists, take and pass a civics test to obtain their degrees.
A number of other institutions have some kind of civics requirement. Purdue’s proposed “Test+” model is unique, however, in that it would mandate that all students pass a test and demonstrate their knowledge of U.S. history, laws and institutions in some other way. Possible options for completing the second part of the requirement are taking an approved course, completing a specially designed learning module from the campus’s 250,000-plus-hour C-SPAN archives and participating in or attending relevant events or experiences (the university’s current speaker series on Democracy, Civility and Freedom of Expression might qualify, for example).
A working group of the University Senate took up after the idea last year after Purdue president Mitch Daniels asked the body to consider it.
“Surveys show people don’t understand the principles of a free society, and if we really want to stay free and govern ourselves, then the citizenry must have a basic understanding of why we do what we do, what their role in it is,” Daniels said recently, summarizing his charge to the Senate.
…“Democracy is undergoing a major stress test” in the U.S. and elsewhere, said James A. McCann, professor of political science and a member of the Senate working group. “So I think the intentions here in the main are good.”