The State of Tuning around the Globe: A Roundtable Discussion

AHA Session 122-a
Friday, January 4, 2019: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Stevens C-5 (Hilton Chicago, Lower Level)
James Grossman, American Historical Association
Daniel J. McInerney, Utah State University
Robert Wagenaar, International Tuning Academy, University of Groningen
Satoko Fukahori, Kyushu University
Ikko Tanaka, J.F. Oberlin University

Session Abstract

Since 2012, the American Historical Association has engaged in an important initiative designed to reframe post-secondary study in our discipline. “Tuning the History Discipline” builds from a collaborative effort in departments, state systems, regional consortia, and the AHA to clarify (and demystify) the distinctive qualities of programs in our discipline. We have developed a process in which history faculties lay out their own distinctive goals and outcomes for courses, majors, and degrees, and then “tune” such descriptions by asking their own students, alumni, local employers, and civic leaders to join in a conversation about what history degrees provide. The aim is to establish an ongoing collaboration with a wide set of stakeholders about the essential nature of history in higher education and the breadth of skills and knowledge that history students bring to the table. The “History Discipline Core” stands at the center of this “outcomes-based” project, describing the central habits of mind, skills, and understanding that students achieve when they major in history. The document is a reference point, not a set of “standards,” a flexible tool designed to stimulate conversations within history departments and other relevant units of colleges and universities about courses, assignments, curricula, pedagogical strategies, and General Education programs, all focused on the learning achieved by students and their future experiences in further education, careers, and civic life.

Widely adopted on over 150 history departments, the Tuning process began in the U.S. in 2008-2009 in three states over a range of disciplines. The first U.S. efforts were guided by faculty from throughout the European Union where “Tuning” first emerged in 2000. There, the project stood as the university response to the 1999 “Bologna Project,” an effort to build “a European Higher Education Area” with shared definitions of degrees and a more unified credit system. Tuning proposed a way to build compatible, comparable programs of study and degrees that identified points of reference, convergence, and common understanding across national and institutional boundaries. Seeking connections, not uniformity, maintaining diversity and autonomy on campuses, Tuning served to clarify the knowledge and skills that students developed in higher education. The process is now at work in 130 nations around the world.

Unfortunately, the initially global-minded discussions of Tuning that started the effort in the U.S. have increasingly turned inward. U.S. academics today have a limited sense of the work as it has expanded around the globe – and colleagues from other parts of the world often feel that U.S. campuses have abandoned the project. The roundtable for this session addresses this pair of problems by bringing together a varied, international group of colleagues who, in a question-and-answer format, will address a number of key questions:

-how Tuning has proceeded in different regions over the past decades?

-how have fields outside of historical study responded to the effort?

-in what ways has the project succeeded?

-what obstacles has Tuning confronted?

-what other types of initiatives have grown out of the project?

-what does the future hold for Tuning?

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