Cultural literacy, afrocentrism, and education for citizenship

Oswald H Richards, University of Pennsylvania


The curriculum wars have been raging in America for over a decade. From the elementary and secondary schools to higher education, battles are being waged to define the curricular needs of American students. At the university and college level, there is tension between the infusion of heterogeneity into the curriculum, which some view as the de-Europeanization of American Culture, and the restoration of core knowledge based on the tenets of Western civilization and culture and the “Great Books” of classical literature, which others consider a retreat to an era of curriculum homogeneity and sterility, static pedagogy, and educational standardization. In recent years, scholars and educators have taken different approaches to solving the curricular needs of America's students. Cultural literacy has been proposed by one camp as a national solution while another camp advocates Afrocentrism for African-American students. Each proponent has engaged in spirited and heated defense of their own particularistic educational philosophy. This has led to a canon debate among educators and others concerning what constitutes the content and composition of the curriculum and what is the proper role of education for democratic citizenship. This dissertation will examine the historiography of the curriculum; the philosophy, pedagogy and contested ideas of cultural literacy and Afrocentrism; and suggest an integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum that inclusively responds to an increasingly diverse demographic American society.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration|Curricula|Teaching|African Americans

Recommended Citation

Richards, Oswald H, "Cultural literacy, afrocentrism, and education for citizenship" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3031718.