Bergen Community College and the American Historical Association’s Tuning Project
The American Historical Association is beginning a new project called Tuning that will, it hopes, significantly affect the way historians, students, and the general public understand the study of history. Bergen Community College is one of 60 schools across the country that has been selected to participate in this exciting new opportunity for those who study and love History.
What is Tuning?
Tuning is an effort by historians to clarify to their students, the broader community, and potential employers of history majors, what history is and what benefits its study provides. In a nutshell, it seeks to provide an answer to the question: What should a history major know, understand, and be able to do by the end of our program of study? In the end, the goal will be for a diploma to indicate not grades or credit hours accumulated but skills, knowledge, and competencies exhibited.
Why is this Important for students at BCC?
The goal of Tuning is to help students enter our program with clear ideas about the expectations and learning goals for those who study history and leave our program with a clear idea of what they have accomplished and the skill set they have accumulated. As our students apply to 4 year and professional schools or enter the workforce, they can clearly express the skills with which history has equipped them and how the study of history has enhanced their ability to contribute to a variety of professions.
A History of the Project:
The process of Tuning a discipline originated at Bologna when 47 European universities created it as a way to make graduates’ degrees and courses of study more easily equated and transferred across national borders. The idea was to make the expectations for the skills and knowledge that each discipline set for its graduates transparent to its students, the public, and potential employers. The universities of Utah and Indiana borrowed this concept of Tuning and adapted it to suit our more independent-minded American ideals of higher education. Their efforts have set the stage for the American Historical Association to begin the first nation-wide project to “tune” a discipline.
The AHA project began in 2012 with over 60 professors from across the nation at colleges and universities ranging from research institutions with doctoral programs to community colleges. These 60 professors, in conjunction with their departments and institutional bodies, will begin the tuning process on each of their campuses and begin to assess and share the benefits and challenges of the process. The goal will be to initiate a series of conversations and consultations about goals, expectations, and assessment between universities throughout the country. It does not seek homogenized curricula, learning outcomes, or assessment tools but rather a convergence of opinions on what our discipline involves.