GU Students Question Proposed Curriculum

Senior Requirements Concern Some

By Brian Zuanich Hoya Staff Writer

Students asked questions and raised concerns Tuesday about the flexibility and practicality of the university’s proposed new core curriculum. In conjunction with the Academic Union, the Main Campus Academic Committee, made up of 30 faculty, students and administrators, met with around 50 students in an open forum in White Gravenor to discuss a possible new curriculum that would require students to take core classes through their senior year.

The proposed core curriculum would replace the university’s current General Education Requirements with six “first-tier” courses defined by categories. These six categories, which will each include many different courses, are “Science and Nature,” “Human Behavior and Society,” “Understanding the Past,” “Religious Experience and Belief,” “The Aesthetic and the Symbolic,” and “Philosophical Reasoning and Reflection.”

Students would be encouraged to complete these “first-tier” courses in their first two years. They would then enroll in two “second-tier” courses their senior year, centered on the categories “Religion and Culture” and “Ethics and Values.” Specific requirements that exist within each school would not change under the new core curriculum.

The current core curriculum requires all students to complete two semesters of English, Theology, and Philosophy, including one in Ethics. Each separate School requires various other classes, in addition to the regular core.

“We thought there were other realms of human experience not being taught in the core six courses,” Victoria Pedrick, a classics professor and member of the College Curriculum Committee, said.

Under this new system, numerous different courses will make up each category in both of the two tiers. Some new courses will have to be created and others will be reworked in order to fit within the framework of the new core curriculum categories, according to Dr. Dorothy Brown, the interim Provost and professor of history. However, only one course from any department will be able to be used to fulfill the requirements in the first-tier categories.

The new system also disallows any Advanced Placement credit to be counted towards the core fulfillment, though the credit would be counted as an elective towards the general 120 required credit hours.

Students offered a number of objections to the proposed core curriculum. One SFS senior, who was unavailable after the meeting, commented that, after having spent his junior and senior years focusing in on his major, he would have no desire to take “general courses” once again.

Another student, also unavailable after the meeting and an SFS senior who had studied abroad her junior year and who was currently pursuing a Certificate in African Studies, said that this new core curriculum would limit her flexibility within an already stringent SFS curriculum. She said that if the new curriculum was currently in place, she would be unable to complete the necessary courses for her major, as well as pursue an African certificate.

MCAC members did not respond directly to the comments, but they agreed that because the curriculums from the McDonough School of Business and the School of Foreign Service were more stringent than the core curriculum of the College, it would be more difficult for SB and SFS students to return from a semester abroad and face second-tier requirement courses.

“There will be significant resources devoted to motivating and helping faculty,” Pedrick said. She said she envisions possible seminars between faculty members that would help them exchange ideas about class progress.

At the end of the meeting, Paul Betz, professor of English and a member of the MCAC, praised student comments, most of which were objections, because they “propose changes that will be taken seriously” when administration officials decide upon the future of the university’s core curriculum.

Interested students can contact their GUSA representatives or members of their Academic Council for copies of the MCAC’s “Proposal for a Required Core Curriculum,” which describes the possible curriculum changes and its implications for students.

From here, the proposal will be circulated to Curriculum Committees, the Executive Councils of each school, each academic department, the Executive Faculty members, the Board of Directors and President Leo J. O’Donovan S.J., according to Rob Feigenson (COL ’00), the chair of the Academic Union and one of the two student members of the MCAC.

“This is still only the very beginning of the discussion,” Feigenson said. “The proposal must still undergo intense scrutiny and many changes, but the students have to remain involved throughout the entire process, and the Academic Union, the Academic Councils, and GUSA are collectively prepared to do so.”

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