Campus Units

Education, School of

Document Type


Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

Winter 2013

Journal or Book Title

Liberal Education






Over the past century, there have been several calls to infuse education for personal and social responsibility into the core of higher education. As early as 1937, and again in 1949, for example, professionals from the American Council on Education gathered to discuss the central tenets of higher education in the United States. Both groups of educators concluded that "the central purpose of higher education is the preservation, transmittal, and enrichment of culture by means of instruction, scholarly work, and scientific research" (ACE 1983, 17), but the document that emerged from the 1949 meeting suggested broadening the purpose of higher education to embrace several additional emphases and objectives. Among these new goals, which were adapted from the 1947 report of the President's Commission on Higher Education (the "Truman Commission"), three stand out:

  • education for a fuller realization of democracy in every phase of living
  • education directly and explicitly for international understanding and cooperation
  • education for the application of creative imagination and trained intelligence to the solution of social problems and the administration of public affairs

Both meetings produced documents that called on higher education to build campus environments that support individual students, while holding students accountable for their personal behaviors and for how those behaviors affect the larger community. In particular, the 1949 document stressed the importance of engaging with communities outside of the college campus. These early documents articulated the importance of educating students for both personal responsibility and social responsibility.


This article is published as Reason, R. D. (2013, Winter). Creating and assessing campus climates that support personal and social responsibility. Liberal Education, 99(1). Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

Association of American Colleges & Universities



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