General education curriculum may be restructured in future

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General education curriculum at St. Edward’s University is in the midst of a renewal process.

The last time the university changed its general education was in the early ’90s. The new curriculum is set to be voted on next fall and is likely be implemented with the class of 2023.

The curriculum consists of cultural foundation, science, math, language, speech, computer, ethics, religion and Capstone classes for a total of 57 hours.

Before any changes are made to the general education requirements, as a part of St. Edward’s Investing for Our Future program, which aims to save money, there will be fewer sections to courses. This means students will have fewer choices for classes.

Professors will be discussing the elimination of course sections and other course related money saving measures at a town hall meeting Dec. 4.

One change that faculty will keep in mind is decreasing the general education hours required. This reduction in hours should give students more opportunities to double major, add a minor and study abroad.

“For some people the general education is too large … for many people it’s difficult to have a curriculum this large and finish a major and a minor,” Lynn Rudolff, associate dean of humanities and professor of English writing and rhetoric said.

Sophomore Daniel Perez agrees.

“I could have taken another science class that would help my major instead of a CULF class,” Perez said. “So for me not having any of it would have help a lot.”

A committee consisting of Cory Lock, director of general education; David Blair, director of Institutional Assessment; and a representative from each school, will lead the process.

“The whole point is to create space so students can have a customized experience,” Director of Capstone Todd Onderdonk said.

Currently, the renewal is in its beginning stages. The committee is gathering information from faculty through surveys and discussion.

Next, focus groups will be conducted in the spring. Current students and recent graduates can be apart of the groups. The data gathered will help identify areas in the curriculum that should change.

Once the focus groups are complete, professors will be grouped together to create a proposal of changes for the general education curriculum. These proposals will be based on student and alumni opinions and areas professors believe need to be improved.

Involved faculty will vote on these proposals in Fall 2015.

“Any major changes to the Bulletin must be approved by the Academic Council and the Board of Trustees. And there may be new courses, which would go to the Curriculum Committee, then the Academic Council and Board of Trustees,” Rudolff said.

By Spring 2018, final approvals will be set and training for professors will begin for the incoming freshmen class.

“We have to have things in banner by the spring of 2018 for the students entering in the fall,” Lock said.

Other than cutting hours, Lock did not list any potential specific changes to classes. She cites that it is too early in the process for specifics.

“We don’t know what the models (proposals) are until we know what students value in their education, what alumni said was valuable and not valuable, and what faculty had to say and then the discussion can start,” Lock said.

While Lock believes it is too early to speculate, many students and professors know what they would like changed.

For psychology professor Delia Kothmann Paskos, less requirements in general education will allow students more chances to explore electives.

“Students need more opportunity for electives to allow students to simply do what they want to do,” Paskos said.

Sophomore Tu Dom believes that the current Capstone and CULF classes are helpful to students, but need some tweaking.

“I think it’s very helpful to understand and show appreciation to art, American culture and support students in their education experiences,” Dom said. “I would recommend these classes to other students, but those classes should be optional, not a requirement.”