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Undergraduate Education: Adapting to a New World

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Undergraduate Education: Adapting to a New World

Since medieval times, undergraduate universities have provided the education necessary to fulfill the needs of societies in terms of a professional work force. After completing the liberal arts curriculum taught at medieval universities, students could go on to study medicine, law or theology; but these disciplines could take up to a decade of continuous studies. The students that didn’t want to pursue those degrees could find other lucrative careers that society demanded at the time. Universities broadened the fields they taught to fulfill the always-changing needs for new skills in the workplace. The same way, universities throughout time have always restructured their undergraduate curricula according to structural changes in the society such as technology, economics, and international relations. In the past ten years undergraduate universities and colleges in the United States have changed dramatically their curricula to keep up with the changing environment of the nineties.

Technology has been one of the most important, if not the most important factors for the restructuring of undergraduate education in the United States. According to a report entitled “Shaping the Future” from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education, ten years ago there was virtually no Internet, no World Wide Web and computers in classrooms were few and far between. Today, a great portion of the freshmen in college have at least a basic knowledge on how to use a computer and its applications. With the constant release of new software, college students are expected to keep up with latest ones and be able to learn new versions as soon as they come out. But technology is...

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...en though research is still a major objective, the need for improvement in the quality of teaching has made undergraduate education move higher in the list of priorities of most universities.

Even thought the objective on and undergraduate education is still to increase our sensibility in the arts, create awareness of the diversity of thought in our society and increase our critical thinking abilities, it is also to prepare men and women for professional challenges. Our universities are responsible for creating competitive individuals able to meet job-related expectations and achieve self-actualization. Structural changes in technology, economics, and the globalization of business practices affect many aspects of our lives. It is the dutie of higher learning institutions to keep up with those changes and transmit them to their students so they take advantage.
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