The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is looking to revise its General Course Requirements for the first time in eight years.
The school’s deans council has plans to set up subcommittees to review the college’s current GCRs and make recommendations for revision. The GCRs in the college were last reviewed about eight years ago, but no substantial changes were made. The last time siginificant changes were made was in 1988.
“This is not a quick process,” said Marguerite Barratt, dean of the Columbian College. “We need to find the key fundamentals and ask questions like ‘what does an educated person need to know?’ We might not necessarily change anything, but having the right conversations is important.”
Barratt said if anything is changed, the number of GCR’s will be decreased.
“We are definitely not going to increase them,” she said.
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said the Columbian College may consider creating a core curriculum, where all students are required to take the same three or four classes.
Tim Little, vice president of academic affairs for the Student Association, said his organization will likely have representation on the Columbian College’s GCR review committee. The SA will hold town halls and information sessions in order to get student input on the topic.
Students in the Columbian College must take a minimum of 17 classes in seven different areas, including math, science and humanities. Some professors call this an outdated system, with too many requirements.
“We baby students too much,” said Tyler Anbinder, chair of the history department. “It was designed for students 20 years ago. I don’t think students now need to be forced to take classes (outside their majors) anymore.”
Anbinder said he does not want to teach students who are only in his course to fulfill the humanities requirement.
“There are students who don’t like history. I don’t want them in my class,” he said, “as much as I think all people should take history.”
Eric Cline, a member of the deans council and a professor in the classics department, said the arrival of a new dean makes this a good time to look at the GCRs.
“It seems to be an issue that is worth looking into to see if a change needs to be made at all,” he said. “We might just be creating more work for ourselves.”
Martin Zysmilich teaches chemistry courses for non-science majors. He said he is opposed to decreasing the number of science GCRs, as he said a background in science is necessary for any career.
“When some of the most important problems of our modern world are intrinsically of scientific origin, all educated citizens should have a strong science background,” he said.
David Grier, associate dean for academic programs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, said his school reviews its curriculum every five to seven years, but that they are not looking to change the required courses in the school. The school’s upper level courses are broad and encompass many disciplines, he said.
“CCAS is a different type of learning,” Grier said. “They give students breadth early, then work in the field.”
Some students in the Columbian College said the requirements should be more flexible.
“I think requiring so many GCRs is counterproductive to (the Columbian College’s goals,” said Sean Rourke, a sophomore in the Columbian College. “I feel like I get less of a range of classes and I can’t take the classes outside my major that I want to (because I need to fulfill so many requirements.”