Continuity Across Course Sections
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 13, 2012 01:04
There’s a problem with “The Problem of God.”
Because professors are given the freedom to choose the material covered in introductory theology classes, there’s an element of unpredictability in how much work they will assign. While specific course material should be left to the discretion of each professor, such classes should entail the same amount of graded work.
Professors teaching either “The Problem of God” or “Introduction to Biblical Literature” have significant leeway when designing the curriculum of their courses. Thus, even though all “The Problem of God” classes, for example, are listed under the same course number, students have the pick of a variety of topics of focus depending on their sections. At present, the syllabus for each introductory theology class is accessible during pre-registration and registration to help students choose courses that pique their interests.
The variety of lenses offered by these classes benefits the student body. However, the differentiated amounts of work required for different sections do not. The workload for “The Problem of God” ranges from lengthy papers and challenging midterms to only one-page reflections and discussions, depending on the section. Some don’t require a traditional final, while others mandate a research paper or sit-down exam. Similarly, students enrolled in one section of “Introduction to Biblical Literature” may face more graded assessments than those enrolled in another.
Students beginning their Georgetown careers may not necessarily know the amount of work assigned by a particular professor before registering for a course and may be stuck spending significantly more time on a required introductory class than other students in a different section of the same course. The policy is also detrimental to the Georgetown student who, rather than considering the material offered when choosing a section, may only consider the level of work required, potentially causing them to miss out on valuable academic experiences.
The theology requirement is fundamental to a Georgetown education. It is designed to provide students with an academic foundation. But the uneven work distribution among sections of these required courses makes it impossible to keep that foundation consistent for all students.