Peoples and cultures

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A Williams College graduation requirement.

Controversy surrounds this requirement. Some think it doesn't do enough, presumably, to acquaint students with unfamiliar cultures. Others think that it is unimportant or presumptuous.

Some argue that being forced to take courses that are irrelevant to their interests is contrary to the idea of a liberal arts education in which students are allowed to decide what's best for them. Others would argue that taking such classes outside areas of interest is exactly what a liberal arts education is all about.

The second argument against the peoples and cultures requirement is that only non-Western cultures fulfill this requirement. This assumes that only the majority of the college--belonging to Western culture--needs exposure to non-traditional culture courses. Some have said that these non-Western students could be allowed to take traditionally Western courses to fulfill their P&C requirement. The interesting point raised by this question is whether the requirement should be more individually tailored based on the student's cultural background.