GenEd changes to ‘Common Curriculum’


By Charlotte Lehman

Some gradual changes have been taking place in order to enhance the General Education program, which is now called the “Common Curriculum.”

Right now, the only main significant difference is the name change.  The name change is believed to better reflect the purpose of the program and goals of Union academics.

“We make our most obvious commitment to being a liberal arts college,” said Professor of History John Cramsie, who currently serves on the board overseeing the program changes.  “We want to do a better job of emphasizing what a liberal arts education is and give the program a sense of identity and purpose.”

There are other minor changes to the General Education program.  Students may have noticed the new advising worksheet.  Cramsie said that the worksheet was redesigned to be a more practical tool.

“We want it to be more than just boxes you check.  We want people to be more conscious of what those things [general education requirements] are and why you do that at a liberal arts college,” Cramsie explained.

There is also a new search engine for advising purposes, which Cramsie said has improved the advising experience drastically.  He has received far fewer emails from confused advisors and students this year, something he expects is a result of the new advising worksheet and search engine.

More changes are coming in the future, though the date of implementation of these programs has not yet been decided.

In particular, the committee has discussed replacing the current cluster system.

“Their purpose is to get students to make strong interdisciplinary connections in their courses.” Cramsie said.  “But they don’t do a good job of accomplishing what we thought they would.”

Cramsie also discussed coming changes to the Sophomore Research Seminar program.  He was involved in its creation several years ago and now has the responsibility of evolving the program to better suit the academic needs of Union students.

Starting next year, those taking their SRS will be eligible for a research prize to be granted at a special reception with a speaker the following fall.  At the end of next year, the General Education board will look at all projects nominated by professors and select one to receive the research prize.

“We want to make connections between what students do in the program and the academic life of campus more clear,” Cramsie said.


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