This year’s freshmen will not be able to brush off the traditionally bare-bones “welcome to college life” class. A 3-hour Cornerstone class has replaced the 1-hour University Seminar (UNIV 100) as a part of ACU’s new interdisciplinary core curriculum.
Cornerstone shifts the focus from simply providing students with fundamental learning skills, such as note-taking and study habits, to cultivating critical thinking and a multi-faceted worldview, said Dr. Kristina Campos, course developer and assistantÂ professor of communication.
“We kept hearing from students that UNIV 100 didn’t do all the things that they wanted it to do,” Campos said. “The idea was to create a 3-hour course that was more rigorous and taught what we expect from a college scholar.”
Unlike UNIV 100 that grouped students by majors, Cornerstone allows all majors to sign up for any of the 37 sections, Campos said. Cornerstone, the first of five new core classes, centers its discussion around “The Question of Truth,” which also serves as its subtitle.
Debbie Williams, associate professor of English, said she was excited to teach Cornerstone this semester after years of teaching UNIV 100. She expects this class to allow students to examine challenging questions from many angles in a way a 1-hour course could not.
“The issue not addressed in UNIV 100 was a sense of why you’d have a liberal arts education and how all these disciplines work together,” Williams said. “How can you give an account of what you believe as a Christian scholar unless you’ve had some exposure to the bigger questions like ‘What is truth’?”
A prominent feature of this class is its Spotlight Speaker Series. A different ACU professor will present from a wide range of topics to students of all sections each Monday in Cullen Auditorium, Campos said.
The individual sections, about 30 students in size, will break out on Wednesdays and Fridays. Dr. Vic McCracken, assistant professor of theology and ethics, will be putting together podcasts of Q-and-As with the spotlight speakers for sections to use in discussion.
McCracken said the broad scope of these discussions will force professors to learn along with their students about subjects outside their expertise. Though he expects challenges along the way, McCracken looks forward to the opportunity for both professors and students to be pushed outside of their comfort zones.
While students will have to be more engaged in Cornerstone than they were in UNIV 100, McCracken said they would not be overwhelmed. He believes freshmen are ready for the challenge.
“Students today tend to be more boundary-breaking,” McCracken said. “If I were a freshmen, I’d love to take this class.”
The five interdisciplinary courses of the new core curriculum include:
- The Cornerstone Course: The Question of Truth
- Integrated Course 1: The Question of Identity
- Integrated Course 2: The Question of Community
- Integrated Course 3: The Question of Transcendence
- The Capstone Course:Â The Question of Vocation