ArtSci curriculum to undergo changes
Proposed changes to the Arts & Sciences curriculum were passed overwhelmingly in April by both faculty and students on the ArtSci Council. These changes are currently in the process of implementation, according to James McLeod, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.
“We are starting this year to develop a plan of implementation,” McLeod said. “There will be a group of students, administrators and faculty to plan to develop it and put it in place.”
The changes will not affect current students, but if fully implemented, could apply to the Class of 2014 at the earliest.
“It is always the custom to have the curriculum apply to classes entering only after the plan is put in place,” McLeod said. “It is unfair to make students change their curriculum.”
Some notable changes to the curriculum include replacing the clusters system with an Integrated Learning Model (ILM), replacing the Quantitative Analysis (QA) requirement with a new Numerical Applications (NA) requirement and adding a Language and Culture (LC) requirement. The Implementation and Curriculum Review Committees will work on specific changes for the curriculum throughout the year.
According to the New Curriculum Review Committee Report, presented on April 13, 2009, the current cluster system is “inadequate, unwieldy, sometimes unnecessary, and too demanding.” The report also states “there is little collaboration between instructors in clustered courses that might help further the ends of coordination and integration. In general, clusters do not provide the added value that the Bowen Commission said was a necessary condition for having them.”
The Curriculum Review Committee notes that, among other things, “students can use various options more easily to achieve the goals of integration and coherence.”
In addition to the ILM, the NA requirement is intended to encourage more real-world applications than the QA requirement previously had. While the Curriculum Review Committee will add more specifics to the plan, students eventually “must satisfy the NA requirement within their first three years and should be encouraged to complete it within the first two years.”
The Curriculum Review Committee will also perform a review of Writing 1. The report says “the committee should define the larger goals of Writing 1 and address, in relation to them, issues of format, content, placement, and administrative structure. The possibility of coordinating Writing 1 with the freshman book program and other aspects of the curriculum should also be considered.”
According to McLeod, such changes to curriculum are typical of the University. While Arts & Sciences faculty and students regularly review curriculum in majors and specific courses, larger-scale review, such as the current changes, are done less frequently. When the current curriculum took effect, the Curriculum Review Committee recommended that it be reevaluated after a certain number of years.
A main reason for the changes was the applicability of the new curriculum to real-world uses. According to McLeod, the Curriculum Review Committee always takes real-world preparation into account when it makes these changes.
Though some students do not have a problem with the current system, they would be interested in seeing how the changes will affect future students.
“I think the cluster system is a good system,” senior Hannah Clements said. “For the most part, it forces you to take classes that you wouldn’t normally take and usually end up finding it pretty interesting, and for the most part it’s usually only one or two classes that you weren’t that interested in taking.”
Senior Sarah Brehm said, “Reducing requirements would probably be a good thing, because I’d probably take more classes related to my major, which is what I came to study.”
Despite liking the cluster system as it currently is, Clements would be interested in seeing the changes in practice before making judgments about the new system.
“You come to college to get a liberal arts education, so if they feel like the new system is better able to help students to learn how to think and ask the right questions and be able to go off into the world, fine,” Clements said. “But if it’s going to be an easy way for students to avoid taking classes in the majority of departments, then I wouldn’t necessarily agree with it.”