Curriculum overhaul proposed

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August 30, 2012

11:11 PM

Future students may never know the struggle of waiting until their senior year to get into a 100-level history course to fulfill a General Education Requirement for graduation.

A proposed plan by the faculty steering committee charged with creating a prospective new curriculum would overhaul the GER system, under which the College has operated since 1993.

The proposed curriculum as it stands now aims to switch the emphasis from taking classes in a great number of topics to a more holistic general education program for students.

“We don’t see general education as a series of boxes to check but a way to pull together [students’] knowledge,” mathematics professor and member of the steering committee Michael Lewis said.

Freshman would continue to take the freshman seminars, though their designations would change to COLL 150. Additionally, the plan requires freshmen to take a COLL 100 course designed to compliment the freshman seminar.

“[COLL 100] is where students are introduced to the rigor and excitement of the College,” Dean for Educational Policy in Arts and Sciences and Hispanic studies professor Teresa Longo said. Longo also chairs the faculty steering committee.

Like the GER system, the proposed plan spreads out general education over all four years. But the proposal would require specific classes during certain years. Between their freshman and junior years, students would be required to take three COLL 200 courses, one from each of newly created fields: “The Arts and Aesthetic Interpretation,” “Social and Humanistic Understanding,” and “Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning.” In an effort to highlight the similarities and differences among fields, these courses would not belong to any department.

Students would also be required to take three additional courses from the new fields that are not designated as COLL 200.

“The new curriculum ties [different disciplines] together and allows students to learn from a perspective outside of their chosen major not only in core requirements but throughout their educational experience,” Caroline Yates ’12 a student on the faculty review committee said in an email.

Third year students would enroll in COLL 300: “W&M in the World,” a two-credit course focused on creating links between academic learning and the real world from a global perspective.

During their senior year, students would complete a two-credit senior portfolio through a course called COLL 400. This would serve as a “culminating moment” for students to compile their four years of work and present it in a public forum.

The proposed changes would retain the language proficiency requirements but institute a similar requirement for mathematics.

“In order to build a strong academic community, we’ve set out to build a William and Mary program,” Longo said.

The proposed changes, including the proficiencies, would total to at least 30 credits, according to the steering committee. This would generally make up the same number of credits as the current GER system.

“I don’t think the new curriculum is any harder or easier for students to fulfill,” Yates said. “Rather, the proposed changes offer a revitalized approach to core requirements.”

While formulating the proposed curriculum, the faculty steering committee received input from prospective student employers.

“What I heard was communication, communication, communication and collaboration and teamwork,” Lewis said. “They wanted self-awareness. Basically, they wanted interesting people.”

The committee said they developed the new program to prepare students for a changing workforce and an increasingly global market.

“By stressing an interdisciplinary and global perspective, the new curriculum prepares students for life outside of academia and exposes them to varying ways of learning as well as doing,” Yates said.

The proposed plan aims to keep students on the cutting edge of a developing market.

“The world has changed, our students have changed,” Lewis said.

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About Author

Senior staff writer Jill Found '13 is a history major from Warrenton, Va. She was previously Editor-in-Chief, Executive Editor, Variety Editor, Associate News Editor and Associate Variety Editor.

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