AHI Undergraduate Fellow Marta Johnson (’13) has accepted a summer position with the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, or ACTA, is a non-profit organization in Washington DC that works to uphold academic freedom, excellence, and accountability in colleges and universities. ACTA addresses the disturbing trend in American colleges and universities where skyrocketing tuition costs are increasingly accompanied by falling academic standards and an emphasis on political correctness over free speech and the pursuit of truth. ACTA works with and provides resources for trustees, alumni, and donors to help them exert pressure on colleges and universities to keep down costs that do not enhance the quality of students’ education.

Ms. Johnson, an Economics major at Hamilton College, will primarily be performing research for ACTA’s flagship project, What Will They Learn?, which rates schools’ core curricula in seven key areas of knowledge: composition, literature, foreign language, US history, economics, mathematics, and science. What Will They Learn? has rated over one thousand American colleges and universities, and hopes to look at even more in the future. ACTA releases its ratings for free online at WhatWillTheyLearn.com, which allows students to compare schools with a few simple clicks. WhatWillTheyLearn.com is a valuable tool both for those examining the state of higher education today and for high school students trying to choose which university to attend.

A junior at a college to which What Will They Learn? gave an “F,” Ms. Johnson’s interest in ACTA’s work grew out of her own experiences. Originally ambivalent about core curricula, she changed her mind when she saw “how difficult interdisciplinary conversations can be without a common knowledge base. I hope that I can help address that issue this summer while learning more about the various problems confronting higher education and the obstacles that anyone with a stake in higher education – especially students, trustees, professors, alumni, policymakers, and faculty – face in overcoming them.”