Last year, Pacific University began tossing around the idea of revising the current core curriculum all students are required to take. After putting together multiple proposals, it appears a new core revision is in full swing and if everything goes as plan, will take effect in the fall of 2018.
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) put together a task force of professors who are responsible for creating the new core. The task force is headed by Professor Michael Geraci of the media arts department and Professor Lisa Szefel of the history department.
Other members of the task force include English Professor Tim Thompson, Biology Professor Stacey Halpern, Civic Engagement Professor Stephanie Stokamer and Computer Science Professor Shereen Khoja. When they began preliminary work to revise the core, the task force knew this was going to be at least a two year process.
“It’s a long process because it affects every student,” Geraci said. “The issue is that we will have every student now on the current core and any new students we bring in on a new core.”
The current timeline for the core revision is relying heavily on meeting a December deadline to submit a proposal to the CAS who will need to approve it.
“That December deadline is big for us,” Geraci said. “If we can get it approved by then, we’ll have the entire spring semester to work with the college of arts and sciences, college of business and the college of education. We have to work with them to make sure their core is aligned with ours. The college gets to choose the core but the university and the board of trustees have to agree and approve it. It’s going to take all year and to meet all of those deadlines will be difficult.”
Nothing is official on the changes that will be made with the new core according to Geraci, but many ideas have been tossed around and the new proposal will surely do away with focal studies. Instead, the task force has come up with a new requirement called modes of inquiry that will replace the focal studies.
“We knew we needed something that still makes the courses you’re taking kind of connect so that’s why we came up with the modes of inquiry,” Geraci said. “It is a simpler way of thinking about focal studies. Right now we have five modes of inquiry but that will likely change.”
The current five modes of inquiry that are under discussion are, the creative process, analyzing and interpreting text, thinking historically, social systems and human behavior and Natural world. To complete these modes of inquiry, students will only have to complete one class for each one to meet the requirement.
According to Geraci, the idea is to create a broader palate of classes that fall into each category to make it easier on students and bring more interest to those students taking those classes. The task force is currently putting together a course list for each mode of inquiry. For the new core, many of the requirements will remain the same, such as First Year Seminar (FYS), the language requirement, civic engagement and Senior Capstones.
However, other requirements will change under the new core or at least be modified. Among these include the writing and math requirements.
“We are modifying the math requirement to make it more generalized to quantitative reasoning,” Geraci said.“So we’ll still have a language and logic course and statistic courses that meet that requirement but we are looking at courses like economics as a way to meet the requirement.”
Although nothing has been decided upon for the writing requirement, the task force has agreed that a change will be made to that. Another change will be the modification of the diverse perspectives requirement to emphasize more global thinking to get students to understand how the whole world works. The idea behind these changes is to make it easier on students and give them some sort of sense of the importance of the core curriculum.
“We want the new core to be better for students and be simpler to complete by not making it unclear,” Geraci said. “We want students to know exactly what the core requirements are and what they need to do to complete it. Most importantly, a lot of students don’t really appreciate what the core does. The core is the part of your education that educates you for your whole life. It builds skills that you won’t necessarily get in your major or minor.”
Another idea that has been looked at is an advanced FYS students will take in their junior year after they have completed the core curriculum. The idea behind this is to give students a real world problem and have them solve it together using the knowledge they have learned from the core and figuring out how these problems relate to students.
“It’s really hard to require a class that every junior has to take because you have to put everyone in a class and have 25 teachers teaching these classes,” Geraci said. “We think it’s a great idea, it will just be tough to execute.”