Civics Literacy Requirement

Last modified: June 24, 2021 9:30a

Background: On Friday, June 11 2021, the Purdue Board of Trustees voted to impose a new curricular requirement for all Purdue system students: a civics education requirement. This is an unprecedented and gross violation of shared governance. In higher education, best practices of shared governance give power over the curriculum to the faculty, the experts on education.

This graduate requirement mandate set by the Board sets a disturbing precedent. What curricular mandates will this group of business leaders impose next? The dissembling of the Board and Purdue administration is another distressing matter.

Until the agenda was released on Monday, June 7 2021, university leaders had stated that the requirement would apply only to the West Lafayette campus. Although the West Lafayette faculty have been aware of this issue for a while, the faculty of regional campuses have been completely blindsided by the Board’s usurpation of power to control curriculum.

The Bigger Picture: Shared Governance in the Purdue Fort Wayne System

Efforts are underway at Purdue to change shared governance structures, including the University Senate. An internal report giving a rationale for “transformational change” was released in April 2021.

Main page for the Purdue shared governance task force, a provost initiative, here.

On 6/8/21 Purdue Today announced a second listening session on shared governance. Find out more and register for the next session (6/16/21) here.

Purdue Documents and Links

  • Email to PFW faculty from PFW Vice Chancellor and faculty leaders on (6/14/21).
  • Link to transcript of the civics discussion at the Board meeting on (6/13/21).
  • Purdue-WL website for civics literacy requirement.
  • Purdue Board of Trustees, Journal and Courier defense of their vote. (6/11/21).
  • Provost Akridge’s proposal, presented to and voted on by the Board on (6/11/21).
  • Board of Trustees Agenda for June 11, 2021, released (6/7/21).
  • Meet the Trustees (not an educator among them!).

Miscellaneous Correspondence

  • Letter from Trustee Brouillette to Purdue system AAUP chapters (6/16/21) .
  • Letter from Trustee Brouillette and Provost Akridge to PFW Presiding Officer Toole (6/11/21).
  • Letter from PFW faculty leaders to Provost Akridge (6/10/21).
  • Letter from Purdue system AAUP chapters to Trustee Brouillette (6/9/21).
  • Letter from Trustee Brouillette to Purdue-WL AAUP (5/21/21).
  • Letter from Purdue-WL AAUP to Trustee Brouillette (5/18/21).


  • Purdue-WL AAUP chapter page on the civics literacy requirement.

Press Hits

  • Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette published an op-ed from the PFW AAUP president and secretary here. (6/20/21).
  • WLFI (West Lafayette station) covered the vote here. (6/11/21)
  • Purdue Exponent story from 6/11/21, including information from AAUP press release.
  • Inside Higher Education story (6/11/21).
  • The Journal and Courier (West Lafayette paper) opinion piece by three Purdue AAUP chapter presidents. Posted (6/10/21).
  • The Purdue Exponent, the West Lafayette student paper, published this story on 6/10/21, under the lead “It is deliberately insulting.”
  • This well-reasoned article from Forbes (posted 6/7/21) explains what is at stake in the civics literacy vote on Friday and how faculty disquiet is connected to concerns about the Board’s unwillingness to abide by Purdue’s own processes of democratic decision making (AKA shared governance).
  • Link to 5/3/21 Exponent (Purdue-WL student paper) story here.
  • Link to 4/22/21 story on Forbes here.
  • Link to 4/19/21 public announcement at Purdue Today (official university communication website) here.
  • Link to 4/19/21 Exponent story here.