By Mallory Schlabach, Editor in Chief
One hundred freshmen will test the new general education curriculum fall 2007 if the faculty approves the plan in a February vote.
This pilot group will test the new integrated classes that combine three fields of study into one three-hour class with professors from various departments teaching all fields. The group will also test the new senior capstone class that will be required of all students their senior year. Following positive feedback from the group, all incoming freshman in fall 2008 will begin the new general education curriculum.
In a meeting Monday, faculty met to discuss the proposed plan. This meeting was one of three final opportunities for faculty to weigh in and give committee members feedback. The final meeting will be Dec. 5. Nancy Shankle, chair of the English Department and chair of the General Education Review Committee, saidfinal changes will be made during Christmas break in time for the February vote so the new curriculum is ready for registration and faculty teaching the new courses will have time to prepare during summer break for the new courses.
Members of the General Education Review Committee shared with faculty why they liked the new plan.
“The integrated courses is the most innovative idea of the entire program. I don’t know how we’ll do everything yet, but it is a neat idea that challenges faculty to get outside of their field and learn something new,” said Dr. Wendell Willis, associate professor of Bible, ministry and missions.
Dr. David Gotcher, chair of the Sociology and Social Work Departments, said he likes the curriculum changes for a different reason.
“I like this notion of cultural competence,” he said. “As students become more global, it is important to realize that different groups have different traditions. We need to teach them to recognize those differences and get along.”
Dr. Jeff Arrington, associate dean of Campus Life and co-chair of the GER committee, said with this new curriculum, students would be introduced to higher expectations through the capstone courses. The capstone courses are courses that a student will take one time each year over a four-year period.
“Over four years, the student is pressed to converge their discipline and faith into one discussion,” he said.
The mindset behind the general education course changes is that students don’t view general education courses as important to their major.
“General education is a foundation for all majors,” Shankle said. “It is not something to get done before your real major courses.”
Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost of the university, gave the general education curriculum his approval. “The president and I commend and fully support the proposed curriculum,” he said. “A liberal education is meant to help prepare students for life through the career they choose. This curriculum can challenge the students to stronger intellectual and spiritual growth than what they are currently experiencing. We expect this curriculum to substantially enhance the majors of this institution.”