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Feb 22

The Shaping of the American Mind

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The Shaping of the American Mind: The Diverging Influences of the College Degree & Civic Learning on American Beliefs is the fourth major study from ISI’s civic literacy initiative on the relationship between higher education, civic knowledge, and citizenship. Conventional wisdom holds that there is a strong connection between how much people know and how much college education they receive – the more college, the more knowledge. ISI’s research, however, demonstrates that on most campuses, this seemingly obvious correlation is quite marginal.

In 2006 and 2007, the average college freshman and senior failed a sixty-question multiple-choice exam on knowledge of American history, government, foreign affairs, and market economics. In 2008, seventy-one percent of a random, representative sample of 2,508 American adults – with and without college degrees – failed a similar basic test. If earning a bachelor’s degree does not significantly impact civic knowledge, what impact does col¬lege have on civic life?

This year’s report compares the independent influence that earning a college degree, acquiring more civic knowledge, and other factors in a person’s life exert on a broad range of public issues and subjects, including American ideals and institutions, higher education, immigration and diversity, culture and society, religion and faith, and market economy and public policy. Join us as we examine how graduating from college or gaining civic knowledge can change an individual’s public views.

More About the Speakers


General Josiah Bunting III
ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board

Dr. Richard Brake
ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board

Dr. Gary Scott
ISI Senior Research Fellow in Civic Liberty

Terry Jeffrey
ISI Visiting Fellow and Editor-in-Chief of Cybercast News Service