New general education plan approved

New general education plan approved

In four years, Bio World, Reading the Bible and Literature and Writing will no longer be taught at Goshen College, or at least not the same way they’re taught now.

Faculty approved the new general education program, Goshen Core Curriculum, on Thursday, and the committee directing the change will develop the details this year. In the fall of 2012, incoming freshman and transfers will start with the new classes.

The Core Curriculum will do away with colloquiums and introduce classes that must be completed sequentially within the first three years of college. In addition to these classes, which focus on academic skills, students will take courses that look at complex issues from an interdisciplinary approach.

“There is a push at liberal arts colleges to cross disciplines,” said Kathy Meyer Reimer, director of elementary education.

“The interdisciplinary approach is a platform for the development of expertise,” said Ross Peterson-Veatch, associate academic dean. “Experts know one thing well, but they know how other things work and how their area connects to other things.”

Students will take interdisciplinary courses in the fields of the religious world, natural world, social world, artistic world and peacemaking.

Peterson-Veatch said that an example title for one of these classes would be the Economics of Science and Peace.

Another new aspect of the Core Curriculum will be pre- and post-SST classes. The pre-SST class will introduce intercultural skills to first-years and the post-SST course will focus on global issues and integrating SST experiences with the skills learned in the pre-SST class.

One of the strengths of the new program is that it pushes students to investigate bigger issues and thought processes rather than simply get an introductory glimpse into various fields, like the current program does. The Core Curriculum also provides more structure to the general education system so that students aren’t taking basic math or English courses during their senior year.

By the time students complete these new requirements, they will have a shared core experience that emphasizes Goshen’s vision of an “international, intercultural, interdisciplinary and integrative education.”

Certain assignments from the core classes will be placed into an ePortfolio which students can use to display their college work. Administrators will also use the ePortfolios to assess the success of the new program and tweak the curriculum as needed.

Faculty and administrators are excited about the change that the new general education curriculum will bring. Ninety-one percent of the faculty approved the plan at Thursday’s faculty meeting.

“It’s unusual to get such positive responses about such a radical change,” said Meyer Reimer, “but this program gets faculty doing things they really want to do. They’re bringing their own ideas.”

“I think students will like the idea of looking at current complex problems,” said Anita Stalter, vice president of academic affairs and academic dean. “They’ll also like making (general education) more engaging.”

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Written by Sara Alvarez

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