GenEd rightfully requires more diversity in course load

The Core Curriculum faced a lot of controversy among students. It’s a pain hearing about it and scheduling it, let alone actually sitting (or sleeping) through the courses. It feels a little like entering the 13th grade instead of a diverse, thriving college campus like Temple’s.

While students who entered Temple before 2008 have no hope of ever avoiding the Core, students who entered in the Fall 2008 semester and onward don’t have to worry about it.

This year was the first run of Temple’s General Education curriculum, the bulk of classes students are required to take before graduating. GenEd replaced the Core, and students are a lot better off.

Although criticized, this move creates a more diverse learning experience for students. This is fitting, given Temple’s claim of being one of the most diverse universities in the country.

GenEd looks much like the Core, which previously required students to acquire a specified number of credits in certain categories.

Prior to the switch, students were required to fulfill credits in standard categories like the arts, science and math. The most diverse of the categories were Studies in Race and International Studies. Now, new categories have been introduced like Human Behavior, Race and Diversity and World Society.

Within these categories, students take classes that emphasize the interconnectedness of various concepts, like race, gender and human behavior, and how these concepts relate to the real world.

The overlapping of concepts within the GenEd curriculum requires students to learn a little bit of everything. With the old Core, a student was capable of graduating without ever taking a course in women’s studies. Now, it’s nearly impossible for a student to take a course that does not somehow delve into the topic of gender.

For instance, the course Gender Issues in Science and Technology falls into the Science and Technology category. Take this course along with the Chemistry of Wine, and you can conquer an entire category worth of credits. Gender and wine? It’s like being on a semester-long date.

“[GenEd] is more hands-on,” said Terry Halbert, director of the GenEd program. “[The faculty] made a decision that we needed to change the way we teach – not just what we teach, but how we teach.”

Halbert said critics of the GenEd program have complained that when classes explore diverse topics within standard subjects, students aren’t getting the general knowledge content they need.

“We’re trying to help our students walk out of here with capacities and attitudes, not just facts and information,” Halbert said in defense of the program.

One aspect of the GenEd program is the “Philadelphia Experience,” a recurring theme that focuses on combining knowledge learned in class with experiences within Philly.

Last semester, undeclared freshman Molly Grace was enrolled in Creative Spirit, a theater class that fulfilled her GenEd art requirement.

“We had to go on a bunch of different excursions throughout the city,” she said.

As far as her major is concerned, she said, “[GenEd] is definitely helping me to explore which subjects I like and don’t like.”

Living in Philadelphia, attending Temple and being required to take a diverse course load creates an environment in which students really can’t escape diversity. That is exactly how it should be.

Leah Mafrica can be reached at leah.mafrica@temple.edu .

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