Curriculum Committee Reviews Proposals for Changes to the General Education Requirements
Promoting student agency and amplification of the Paideia philosophy define several proposals under consideration by the Curriculum Committee recommending changes to Southwestern’s General Education Requirements. Although current students will likely not see these changes, such reexamination of the General Education broadens the greater Southwestern experience.
“The goal is to develop a more distinctive General Education curriculum that will attract students with curiosity and a desire to participate in the liberal arts and sciences,” said Dean of Faculty Dr.Gaunder. “The curriculum at Southwestern has had an additive quality and we need to simplify our current offerings in a way that promotes student agency and is resource sensitive.”
Over the years, added components to GE requirements have contributed to an intensified curriculum, yet one that students and advisees report as interfering with the holistic value a liberal arts education should provide. Remarks suggest the robust nature of Paideia no longer effectively fits into the current curriculum.
“For some students the requirements may cover about half their courses here,” said Chair of the Curriculum Committee Dr.Berroth. “Some students, therefore, have little room to fit in a second major or a minor, high impact practices, such as study abroad, community engaged learning, internships, research projects, or other forms of co-curricular learning.”
Southwestern promotes the concept of Think-Create-Connect, which lends itself to the intentional engagement of interdisciplinary principles. For students, this includes developing a broad foundation of knowledge; stimulating diverse interests; and reforming responsibilities to adhere to greater academic choices.
“In the reformed curriculum, General Education requirements will account for roughly a third of the courses our students take here, and they would be much more in charge of configuring the other two thirds,” said Dr.Berroth.
Future students will learn to navigate the curriculum in a way that more personally reflects how they want to interact with their interests. Rather than following a formulaic path to personal and academic growth, students may find the new curriculum celebrating the flexibility of learning and the different ways of gaining expertise.
“Teaching and learning about intercultural perspectives and social justice, engaging with communities here and abroad, and developing different forms of inquiry, knowledge, skills, and attitudes across the variety of courses we offer here, our students will be ready to participate in addressing global issues with their heads and with their hearts,” said Dr.Berroth.
Faculty and administrators project Southwestern to increase its diversity with each incoming class, reshaping the campus climate. To that effect, the Admissions Office, the Office of Student Success, and the Curriculum Committee have taken steps to monitor the culture Southwestern promotes and act mindfully when considering the legacy any curriculum change can bring.
“I understand campus culture as intricately connected to larger cultural contexts. Southwestern is less of a bubble than we sometimes think. We are well aware how the issues our students face here on our college campus also reflect the struggles and tensions beyond our campus boundaries,” said Dr.Berroth.
Under the proposed changes, a consensus arises that gives greater accountability and respect to faculty and students in shaping their contributions to the learning community. The Committee will seek input from the Executive Council of Student Government Association as well as others in the coming months to make this process one of inclusivity.
“ECSG will encourage campus-wide participation. We have student representatives on all the coordinating committees on campus. All students can make sure that their representatives keep good communication. Alumni and Student Foundation could contribute as well,” said Berroth.
Current students can start now by communicating their Southwestern journeys, their likes and dislikes, and their hope for future students. In essence, all members of Southwestern have the ability to leave a legacy.