Faculty members in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences will soon vote on a proposal that could significantly reduce the school’s course requirements, administrators said this week.
New measures being proposed could decrease the school’s number of required classes, offer new courses and restructure existing ones. Faculty members in CCAS are expected to vote on the proposed changes at the end of March.
CCAS students are currently required to take a minimum of 17 classes in seven different areas – General Curriculum Requirements that amount to about 40 percent of their undergraduate careers. Peg Barratt, the school’s dean, said in a town hall forum last week that the requirements in CCAS have become too burdensome on students.
“It is an emerging consensus that the vast number of required courses is too much,” Barratt said. “I have just learned that the Middle States Accreditation has a guideline suggesting that about 25 percent of courses should be required courses.”
A committee composed of students, faculty and parents presented a recommendation to the dean’s council last week, but a revised version of the proposal will be presented to faculty members for a vote after spring break. The details of the proposal were not made available.
“The nature of the proposal is that the there will be fewer requirements in fewer categories,” said Marie Price, chair of the Dean’s Council. “The number of courses that would count for GCRs would have to change and existing courses would be reconfigured or added.”
She said the changes, if passed, would only apply to incoming students and could take up to two years to fully implement.
“If the proposal is voted down by the faculty, then nothing changes,” Price said.
Donald Lehman, executive vice president of academic affairs, said the drive for the curriculum review was started to make sure students are being academically engaged and challenged.
“What has happened is there are more ways to satisfy [GCRs], which I think weakened the effectiveness of them as they currently stand,” Lehman said. “That’s why I think it’s so important to go back and relook at the issue.”
Besides engaging students and challenging them academically, Lehman said one of the other goals of the review is to simplify the number of courses that would satisfy requirements. Having fewer course requirements would also help accommodate a design for an electronic degree audit system in the future.
Lehman said GCRs have not been changed since they were first put into place more than 20 years ago.
“Ten years ago there was somewhat of a review of the GCRs with an idea that they were going to be modified, but what happened was there just ended up being more ways to satisfy them,” he said.