Survey says... College students don#039;t know much about history

by Beacon Staff • October 25, 2006

Commissioned by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), the outcome of the study was disturbing, finding that an astounding percentage of American college students failed to correctly answer a number of basic civics questions.,On Oct. 4, the results of a survey about college students' knowledge of American government and history were released.

Commissioned by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), the outcome of the study was disturbing, finding that an astounding percentage of American college students failed to correctly answer a number of basic civics questions.

The study, which involved a sampling of approximately 14,000 undergraduates from all over the country, indicated that only 48 percent of seniors knew that the line, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," is from the Declaration of Independence.

More than half did not know that the Bill of Rights prohibits the establishment of an official state religion.

This type of knowledge is vital for informed participation in a democracy. How can you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been?

Emerson College was not one of the 50 colleges and universities represented in the survey, but students here need to take note.

As leaders in communication and the arts, we must be informed about these most fundamental of issues.

Many Emersonians are indeed vocal about politics. But it isn't enough to be politically loud; the passion must be supported by knowledge.

Many of us will work in fields-such as media, politics or film-that require a great deal of communication skills.

As such, students looking to reflect on life in this country are going to need at least a basic knowledge of history.

The war in Iraq, for example, is a defining event for our generation and a much-discussed topic in Emerson classes.

According to a recent study by National Geographic and Roper Public Affairs, six out of 10 Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 cannot identify Iraq on an unlabeled map.

In order to form an educated opinion on a topic one must read from a wealth of information from various sources. For politically motivated students to express themselves, they have to dig deeper.

Emerson offers multiple courses with excellent professors who work to ensure that we are politically and legally prepared to live in this country.

We must not forget to take advantage of them, lest our school reflect these shocking statistics.