New book ‘Redesigning Liberal Education’ features case studies and visions of the future of student learning

Edited by William Moner, Phillip Motley and Rebecca Pope-Ruark, “Redesigning Liberal Education: Innovative Design for a Twenty-First-Century Undergraduate Education” provides case studies of innovation at several institutions and vision chapters of higher education’s future, with notable contributions from Elon faculty, staff and administrators.

The new book co-edited by School of Communications faculty members William Moner and Phillip Motley and Rebecca Pope-Ruark of Georgia Institute of Technology provides an illuminating view into how educators are today transforming liberal education, exploring the student-centric, deliberative and pragmatic work of redesign.

Published in July by Johns Hopkins University Press, “Redesigning Liberal Education: Innovative Design for a Twenty-First-Century Undergraduate Education” highlights 14 different case studies by educators from across the United States and six vision chapters examining the future of college education. The 327-page book investigates how liberal education’s value can be asserted and elevated in the curriculum and programs designed by campus leaders.

William Moner, Phillip Motley and Rebecca Pope-Ruark

The book’s co-editors – Moner, Motley and Pope-Ruark, who taught at Elon for several years before moving to Georgia Tech – organized the volume into two sections. The first section focuses on innovations at 13 institutions while the second section offers visions of the future of liberal education in the United States.

The case studies – 14 chapters from 13 different institutions – share stories of curriculum and program redesigns involving the liberal arts, and come from schools serving as many as 50,000 students to as few as 1,500. The authors of the case studies provide radical visions of what a liberal arts education should be as well as pragmatic, battle-tested programs and curricula that show how actionable change can be achieved in institutional contexts.

The vision chapters, written by some of the foremost leaders in higher education, touch on a wide array of subjects and themes, all with the common theme of foregrounding the human capacity for resilience, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and playfulness in an age of artificial intelligence and technocentrism. Close attention is paid to the role that human dispositions, mindsets, resilience and time factor into student achievement.

“This book is a treasure trove of innovative institutional examples and forward thinking about ways to increase the relevance and value of liberal education for both students and society,” wrote George D. Kuh, chancellor’s professor emeritus of Indiana University, in his review of “Redesigning Liberal Education.”

Numerous Elon faculty, staff and administrators appear in the new book, detailing a wide range of institutional and learning innovations. Peter Felten, assistant provost for teaching and learning and professor of history, wrote a vision chapter with Nancy Chick of Rollins College addressing liberal learning in a fast-paced world. Additionally, Elon faculty and staff provided two case studies. Moner and Motley co-authored a chapter with Pope-Ruark titled “Immersive Learning in the Studio for Social Innovation at Elon University.” The German Studies program case study was written by Scott Windham, Andrea Sinn, Kristin Lange, Derek Lackaff, Anthony Hatcher, Evan Gatti and Janelle Papay Decato. President Emeritus Leo Lambert penned the book’s afterword.

“The most important takeaway from this book is that it’s about redesigning and creating new programs and initiatives to reshape curriculum for 21st-century skills,” Moner said. “As we were developing the Design Thinking Studio for Social Innovation, the co-editors and I started talking about how what we were doing didn’t seem like an isolated case. We went through some significant challenges to build our program and invited other colleges and universities to share their stories, too. The goal of the book is to highlight various attempts at revitalizing liberal education with an emphasis on the 21st-century values articulated by the AAC&U – the Association of American Colleges and Universities.”

“Redesigning Liberal Education: Innovative Design for a Twenty-First-Century Undergraduate Education” is available from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Javik Blake ’23 assisted with this news release.