Cluster headaches

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By Samantha Tyler

As of Tuesday, May 28, the requirement for clusters has been eliminated from the common curriculum.

The cluster system was originally included in the general education requirements with the goal that it would give students an understanding of how classes from different divisions can relate. Union supports interdisciplinary studies, as outlined in the 2013 Strategic Plan. The way in which students were encouraged to participate in such studies had good intentions, but was not well implemented.

This requirement became a burden to both students and faculty advisors. The Director of Advising Brian Cohen commented, “From an advising standpoint, it’s a huge headache that advisors don’t have to worry about anymore.”

In theory, students were supposed to select a cluster of interest to them and take classes after declaring that cluster. Instead, most students understood that the easiest way to fulfill the requirement was to take other required courses, and declared the cluster that overlapped the most with those classes. As Cohen explains, it became the “accidental requirement.”

This process, enabled by the long lists of courses to choose from for each cluster, eventually led to the requirement’s failure to foster interdisciplinary studies. The lack of foundation courses, required sequencing and sometimes even any real connection between classes within a cluster also led to their elimination.

Based on these issues, the Gen Ed Board proposed to discard the cluster requirement last year. Upon approval by the Academic Affairs Council, the proposal was sent to the General Faculty. The entire Union faculty voted on Tuesday, officially deciding the fate of the cluster requirement.

This year’s graduating class will be the last to complete the requirement. It is no longer necessary for all other students, both current and future, to pursue a cluster. As of July 1, 2013 the common curriculum cluster requirement will no longer exist.

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