In 2007 a new General Education Program focusing on creating common experiences among students will replace the current core curriculum.
“The core [curriculum] is sprawling; it has lost its identity,” said geology professor Laura Toran.
Toran is a member of the Gen-ed committee, along with seven other faculty members, three students and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies Peter R. Jones. The committee is responsible for developing the Gen-ed program within the guidelines determined by President David Adamany and the Faculty Senate.
The Gen-ed program is a restructured and updated core curriculum with a new focus – common experience and an introduction to university life. Starting in 2007 new students will be required to take 11 Gen-ed courses in eight subject areas before the time they earn 62 credits.
According to the most recent draft of the committee’s General Education Request for Course Proposals, the eight subject areas making up the Gen-ed program will be: analytical reading and writing (four credits); great thinkers (two courses, six credits); quantitative literacy (four credits); natural sciences or technology (two courses, six credits); arts (four credits); human behavior (three credits); structures and conduct of society (two courses, six credits); and race and diversity in the U.S. (three credits).
Toran said that the committee is currently generating and approving ideas for classes within these subject areas and will soon inform faculty of course changes so they can begin to develop new syllabi. Great thinkers classes will now be organized by western and non-western themes rather than the current chronological system intellectual heritage uses.
“The idea that learning is exciting is what we want to convey,” Toran said. “We want to take advantage of Temple’s urban campus, address diversity and create common themes among the classes. We’re going to put a twist on learning to make it exciting.”
In order to create these common themes, the Gen-ed program will offer fewer courses than the current core. Some faculty and students are concerned that Gen-ed’s tighter focus will decrease student learning opportunities and put a damper on professor creativity.
“I hear a lot of people expressing anxiety about the new program. There are a lot of professors who feel this is a top-down administration mandate where no one else has any say in the process,” student Gen-ed committee member Josh Meyer, a senior environmental studies and chemistry major, said. “As a committee, we are trying to make everyone, students as well as professors, realize that this is an open process.”
Meyer and the rest of the committee encourage students and professors to suggest ideas for new courses by contacting the committee or Jones.
Despite the open course proposal process, the new program will make it harder for students with strictly structured programs, like architecture, engineering and music, to complete the program before earning 62 credits.
The committee is aware of the problem and is working very hard to find a solution, Toran said.
“All the majors realize the impact [the Gen-ed program will have] and are reviewing their requirements,” she said. “We’re rethinking majors.”
The effects of restructuring the core curriculum into the new Gen-ed program will reverberate throughout the university. Despite the challenges, the Gen-ed committee is optimistic.
“We’re a functioning committee,” Toran said. “We have a lot of ideas and energy.”
Lindsey Walker can be reached at email@example.com.