A committee of 11 faculty members from California Lutheran University’s College of Arts and Sciences has been meeting to review the general education curriculum. The committee is trying to determine how effectively Core-21 meets the goals and mission of the university and to recommend whether or not changes should be made as a result, said Jose Marichal, chair of the Core-21 task force.
There are three possible recommendations the task force could make at the end of their discussions, according to Marichal. Any of the recommendations would require additional steps before the curriculum is actually revised.
“The way we set up the process, the task force would either recommend no change, minor changes, which would go through our curriculum committee or major changes, which would require the establishment of a new group,” Marichal said.
The goals of Core-21 are consistent with goals that have been a part of liberal arts education for many centuries, said Joan Griffin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“The Greeks considered such an education to be what a free person needs to know and be able to do in order to be a responsible citizen in a democracy,” Griffin said. “The middle ages stressed the skills of the mind…and the Renaissance returned to the idea of citizenship, stressing that education is intended to prepare the student both to lead and serve in the public sphere.”
Griffin said it is unlikely those basic goals will change, but changes could be made to the way they are achieved.
“Any change would reflect either a fresh vision of what a liberal arts education should mean in the 21st century or fresh insight into how we should implement that vision,” Griffin said.
According to some CLU students, the current Core-21 curriculum already meets those goals. Senior Gregg Foster said Core-21 effectively challenges students and shapes them into well-rounded thinkers. He also said he found it personally beneficial.
“I am incredibly interested in many different industries for potential work after graduation and being exposed to different areas of thought and practice within the Core-21 is proving to be a huge help,” Foster said.
Some students said Core-21 could be improved. Senior Nolan Stacey said students would benefit from a curriculum that gave them more freedom to focus on their specific interests.
“In my opinion, I feel that the breadth of the Core-21 curriculum is a bit unnecessary,”Stacey said. “While the intent of Core-21 is to provide a well-rounded education, I do think that students would be better off having the ability to either further focus on their major or to pursue extra-curricular subjects that pertain to them individually.”
Despite the benefits Foster said Core-21 offers, he expressed concerns similar to Stacey’s. He said the current Core-21 requirements do not take into account the unique situation of each student.
“If changes could be made, I would set up a specific Core-21 per each major,” Foster said. “I think it’s silly to require certain majors to take certain classes that are really far from their end goal. The Core-21 almost completely disregards student individuality and I think that’s a topic worth investigating.”
Students may want change, but Marichal said if the task force does decide in favor of revising Core-21, it would still take a long time for any changes to be enacted.
If adjustments are eventually made to Core-21, it will not be the first time. Griffin said the core has been revised several times since it was first designed in the 1990s.
Published April 23, 2014