Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


Globalization is changing the way students prepare for careers in the United States and Europe as competition for highly skilled workers is increasing among companies, regions, and nations. Success in this environment requires skills beyond the ability to perform job-related tasks. Skills of this nature are described as “liberal arts,” “basic” or “soft” skills or more broadly, “general education.” This international comparative study examines the processes used to identify, embed, and assess outcomes related to general education within career and technical programs in selected institutions in Europe and the Midwestern United States through the perceptions of their Chief Academic Officers (CAOs).

In this qualitative study, three community colleges were selected from the Midwestern United States and matched with three analogous institutions from the European Union offering career and technical programs. The CAO at each college participated in a semi-structured interview. Questions were asked related to the influence of cultural values and beliefs and the role of internal and external policies on the inclusion of general education objectives within career and technical programs. The content, delivery and assessment of those objectives, and future directions envisioned by the CAOs were also discussed. Interview results were triangulated with information from the college’s web sites and other documentation to support conclusions and recommendations.

The study found considerable agreement on the components of general education among CAOs on both continents but a broad variation on time spent on these components. Findings also included the growing influence of employers on the curriculum of career and technical programs, including general education content, and growing regional, national and international oversight on both sides of the Atlantic. The study offers recommendations for practice, dissemination of the findings, and further research.