Student Body Forum: New Curriculum

By: Trinh Ha

Last fall, Southwestern students were given the opportunity to contribute to the school’s new curriculum change. Students were allowed to choose between keeping the current curriculum, a concentrated curriculum, or a distributed curriculum. A concentrated curriculum would have more specific perspective on courses and a distribution curriculum (the chosen curriculum that we will implement in the upcoming fall) would allow for more flexibility for students to take courses that apply to their interests outside their major or minor. The switch from the current catalog to the distribution catalogue will allow for students to still consider the option of studying abroad without falling behind in school work and for students who are double majoring or minoring in a multiple areas to still graduate on time.

There are three fundamental changes from the current curriculum to the distribution curriculum that will be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year. These changes include revision in what is mandated through the language requirement, the Paideia requirement, and the General-Education requirement. The language requirement has changed from reducing four semesters of language to only three semesters of that language. For example, this will affect the Spanish pathway. Currently, Spanish I is for beginner speakers, Spanish II and III are for intermediate speakers, and Spanish IV is for advanced Spanish speaking students. One tip from the new student body president for the 2017-2018 school year, Sarah Shields, is for students who want to make the change from the old to the new catalogue is to take Spanish III in the summer. This way, students won’t have such a hard transition from Spanish II to III since the new curriculum won’t be implemented yet and and Spanish III and IV won’t be combined into one course.

The next change includes making the Paideia requirement into an optimal choice. Students are allowed to choose between either sticking with the old catalogue and finishing out their Paideia (three courses and a seminar), switching to the new catalogue and still stay in Paideia (two courses and a seminar), or switching to the new catalogue and not doing Paideia at all. The flexibility between allowing students to take Paideia or not comes from the observation that students who were taking Paideia were often behind in their graduation plan and due to the main courses that are required for their major and minor, these students were falling behind.

The last change is with the General Education requirements. The change includes decreasing the amount of courses needed from eight to six. There is no longer a need to fulfill the “Intercultural Perspective Courses”, however courses cannot double or triple count with other types of courses (the only exception are the social justice courses). For example, Social Patterns and Processes can count as both a Social Science and a Social Justice class.

Thanks to the student body, student government association, President Burger, Dr. Kendall Richards, and Dr. Erika Berroth for making these changes possible and allowing for more flexibility in course choices.