Every few years, Temple University evaluates its major policies.
Currently, the Faculty Senate, the governing body of Temple’s faculty, is “in the final stages of reviewing the Temple Core curriculum,” according to Dr. William Nathan, President of the Faculty Senate.
After two years of reviewing, rewriting and revising, the committee appointed by the Faculty Senate is prepared to offer a proposal designed to alter the current Core.
Fortunately for faculty and students concerned about potentially radical changes in the essential Core, there is little to worry about.
“There are probably not going to be major, major changes,” Nathan said. “We’ll just be tinkering a little with it.”
Vice President Dr. Daniel T. O’Hara agreed, saying, “There should be no major surprises. No one needs to get hysterical.”
Discussions about revising the Core began two years ago.
“We were looking carefully at what students are learning and not learning,” Nathan said.
The Faculty Senate eventually formed the General Education Task Force, a committee of about 12 persons under the guidance of co-chairs O’Hara and Dr. Michael Goetz.
The Core is “essentially a basic skills curriculum,” Nathan said. Few changes will be made to the format of the Core, but Nathan and the committee are currently working on “the governance of the Core program.”
“There are a large number of course offering listed as Core,” O’Hara said. “Too many choices, not enough coherence.”
O’Hara believes in “a new governance of the Core structure to make sure they [classes] are doing what they are supposed to do.”
In addition, the committee hopes that the basic areas emphasized by Core courses – reading, writing and qualitative skills – will be reinforced.
“We hope to build into the new Core the kind of training in literacy essential in the world today,” O’Hara said.
Temple students who are required to take Core classes in order to graduate, share a variety of views on the issue. Junior Journalism major Sae Komura came to Temple from Japan. At first, she didn’t like the Core requirements.
But now she believes they are needed “in order to be a well-rounded.”
“It’s part of going to a university,” she said.
Educators agree. “It equips students with the kinds of skills and knowledge they are going to need to succeed in the real world,” Nathan said.
Not all students feel the same way.
“I would rather not have to take them,” said Shannon Reid, a freshman Nursing major. “In some ways, it could be considered a waste of time,” she said. “If I could go just straight to nursing school, and save some money – that would be great.”
O’Hara admitted he thought the same thing while attending college.
“When I was an undergrad,” he said. “I resented the core classes I had to take. Ten, fifteen years later, I’m very happy I did. It prepares you for the real world.”
Temple’s Core classes differ from those of other universities in one major aspect: the requirement of a Race Studies course. “The questions of race, ethnicity and gender are of paramount importance,” O’Hara said.
Core requirements are nothing new in universities.
Most universities have been implementing policies requiring students to take general education classes since the early 60s.
Temple’s current Core program was first established in the early 80s. Core classes usually comprise only about 1/3 of a student’s course load.
Despite near completion of the Core revision proposal, visible changes will not be seen for a while.
“Temple is like a large steamship,” O’Hara said. “To move it into a different course takes a lot of effort and care. You need to very careful where you are going.”
Nathan agreed, saying, “At the rate things are moving, an effective date at earliest is fall 2005, probably not until fall 2006.”
Kishwer Vikaas can be reached at email@example.com.