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Thursday, November 08, 2018

Writer vs. Writer: DWC Program, Productive or Irrelevant to Learning Experience? | Opinion - PC The Cowl

A liberal arts education boasts a little bit of everything, and Providence College’s iconic Development of Western Civilization (DWC) program epitomizes these liberal arts ideals. If students pay attention, they can optimize the program by Elizabeth McGinn ’21.

Photo: courtesy of Foundation For Economic Education.

From Plato to Jefferson, and Augustine to Aquinas, the DWC program surveys the critical moments that comprise the occidental tradition. Each revolutionary pamphlet or transformative idea paved the way for society to be what it is today. No other program in the country, or even the world, can as coherently summarize all of the important aspects of Western civilization.

While some students lament that the topics covered in DWC are not useful or do not correspond to their major, the fact that every student graduates from this program is its best aspect. Sure, some math majors at other colleges will not have to read Paradise Lost, but by having all students do so, the College does its duty and provides a stellar liberal arts education—not to mention how extraordinary and well-rounded it looks on a résumé.

At other schools, students stay comfortably within their designated major and field of study. No exploration, no delving deeply into the world and the past, no mastery of other topics. With DWC, each student learns history, English, theology, philosophy, and more, while gaining a thorough understanding of how the world came to be what is it today.

Greek philosophical thought is a perfect example, for the ideas rooted in antiquity have pervaded throughout the years and had profound impact on Renaissance and Enlightenment thinking, which in turn engendered modern theories and thoughts. Who can trace such a legacy nowadays? Academics can, as well as every single PC graduate...

Although the Development of Western Civilization (DWC) program serves as the backbone of the Providence College core curriculum, the course fails to consistently reinforce the versatile humanities background it was constructed to instill in all students by Alyssa Cohen ’21. 

While developing a strong command of the humanities proves essential in fulfilling a well-rounded education, DWC encumbers students from achieving their academic potential in major required classes, and fails to provide an intricate comprehension of the evolution of the Western world.

As the College offers academically rigorous classes across all fields of study, time remains finite, and inevitably, PC students are sometimes forced to cut corners in their academics.

A typical humanities major is assigned hundreds of pages of dense reading each week, math, science, and business majors must grapple with a litany of complex and abstract numerical, scientific, and economic concepts on a daily basis in order to succeed in their classes.

To that end, when students are bogged down with homework, they fail to prioritize the hundreds of pages of DWC reading, but rather focus on thoroughly completing work for classes required for their major. In turn, many PC students consistently seek shortcuts in completing their weekly DWC assignments, such as skimming the readings, studying online summaries, or neglecting to read assignments altogether. 

Source: PC The Cowl