Carly Henderson did not know what to expect from Cornerstone when she arrived at ACU and was not convinced she would like the new class.
But through the engaging Spotlight Speakers and in-class discussions with students of diverse majors, Henderson said she began to learn not only about philosophy and contemporary issues but her own beliefs as well.
“I think students who come to ACU need this kind of class,” said Henderson, freshman biology major from Edmond, Okla.
Debbie Williams, associate professor of English, said the Cornerstone class she is teaching is an improvement from the University Seminar classes she taught in past years. She believes the new class is meeting the needs of freshmen while philosophically challenging them in way UNIV 100 could not.
Williams said she looks forward to seeing the effect Cornerstone will have on students over their college experience.
“They’re exposed to new ideas together,” Williams said. “The fact that they’re having such a common experience will have interesting effects on the retention and on the way they’re motivated by the Lord to serve.”
Much of the “common experience” Cornerstone affords comes from the Spotlight Speakers the freshmen gather together to hear on Mondays. Cornerstone Peer Leader Christianna Maurer, junior biology major from Lake Stevens, Wash., said an in-class poll reflected freshmen’s enthusiasm for the this new aspect of the first-year course.
“Almost unanimously they responded that their favorite aspect of the class was the Spotlight Speakers,” Maurer said.
Maurer said she likes some of the changes Cornerstone made from the UNIV 100 class she had to take her freshman year.
“I think it’s a good thing they don’t group the class by majors anymore,” Maurer said. “A lot of students change their major in their freshman year.”
As a peer leader, Maurer will fulfill what was one of UNIV 100’s primary functions – connecting with and supporting freshmen on an individual basis. But peer leaders won’t begin focusing on this until the spring semester. At this point, most freshmen seem to be able to handle a college load, Maurer said.
“There are still some students who are disconnected in the class and don’t know what the point is,” Maurer said. “That’s because the point is so simple; it’s to open up your mind a little bit more.”
Although Williams is pleased with the philosophical questions students are exposed to through Cornerstone, she said she wishes the classes had more time to dig into the material. She also hoped Spotlight Speakers could be ordered to better build upon the subject content as the curriculum continues to solidify.
Dr. Gregory Straughn, interim director of the core curriculum, said in an e-mail that while Cornerstone is constantly being adjusted, it is a successful introduction to a liberal arts education.
The University General Education Council is reviewing the third core course, CORE 220, which will focus on community, Straughn said.
“It will address some of the topics of the CORE 120 class (the Human Person and Identity) from the perspective of community,” He said in an e-mail. “One of topics of the course will examine the Sermon on the Mount from different famous viewpoints.”
The Council will review the final core-integrated course later this year, Straughn said.