Rick Santorum vs. History at UC

In fact, UC campuses including UCSB regularly offer both U.S. History and Western Civilization courses.

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently sent a letter to MSNBC anchor Rachael Maddow apologizing for his incorrect statement that no U.S. History courses are offered at UC campuses. In his apology, Santorum added that he meant to say no UC campuses offer Western Civilization courses.

Maddow was quick to point out that UC campuses, including UC Santa Barbara, actually do offer Western Civilization courses. Video of Maddow’s April 27, 2012 segment is available here. Look for a glimpse of UCSB’s Spring 2012 course listing, just under four minutes into this segment.

Some commentators have suggested Mr. Santorum’s comments were based on a March 31, 2012 Wall Street Journal opinion piece: “How California’s Colleges Indoctrinate Students”. According to this opinion piece, “None of the nine general campuses in the UC system requires students to study the history and institutions of the United States. None requires students to study Western civilization, and on seven of the nine UC campuses, including Berkeley, a survey course in Western civilization is not even offered.”

In fact, as the UC Admissions web page notes, “all undergraduate degree programs at UC require study in American history and institutions.”

The Daily Californian (April 2, 2012) writes that Santorum may have based his comments on reading a report released by the privately-funded California Association of Scholars, although the newspaper notes that “whether Santorum was referring specifically to that report in his statements has not been confirmed.”

The California Association of Scholars report (p. 47) claims that “not a single history department on any of the campuses…requires a survey course in Western civilization of its history majors…. [O]n almost all campuses…Western civilization courses are simply not offered at all.”

In fact, at UC Santa Barbara, students may choose from a wide variety of U.S. History courses including a three-quarter undergraduate survey (History 17A-B-C). In addition, the UCSB History Department offers a three-quarter undergraduate sequence (History 4A-4B-4C) in Western Civilization. History majors at UCSB must complete *both* U.S. History and Western Civilization/World History course sequences as part of their major requirements. World History courses at UCSB include discussion of the periods and regions traditionally covered in Western Civilization classes, including ancient Greece and Rome, and medieval and modern Europe.

Discussions of history curricula and textbooks have also appeared elsewhere on television in recent weeks. Two links are included below.

Jon Stewart Show, March 27, 2012.

Colbert Report, April 23, 2012: interview with Texas Board of Education chairman dentist Don McLeroy.

hm 4/29/12; jwil 29.iv.2012


Post last modified: November 3, 2015