By Morgan McCormack – [email protected]
After interviews with a majority of the faculty departments, the Joint Faculty Senate (JFS) found the current Common Curriculum was not meeting the needs of the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University students.
To fix this the JFS created and charged the Common Curriculum Visioning Committee (CCVC) with creating a new Common Curriculum.
“We didn’t think that the Common Curriculum was horrible but we did think we could do better,” Common Curriculum Visioning Committee (CCVC) Co-Chair Emily Esch said. “We heard from faculty and students and other stakeholders that people really wanted a more common experience going through the curriculum and one that was integrated.”
With the new curriculum, the CCVC hopes to create the integrated experience they had heard about.
If voting passes, the curriculum will consist of 11 courses. The courses will include four semester long seminars, which do not reside in any department. Students will be required to take one seminar each year.
The new seminars will each focus on a different value and learning outcome.
“Another thing we thought we could improve upon is our teaching of the Catholic Benedictine tradition, so that shows up in these seminars,” Esch said. “There’s also a race and ethnicity learning outcome and a gender learning outcome and a common good learning outcome.”
The other seven courses are Question or Investigation courses. The new curriculum states that any department could teach any of the seven courses and that each department will be able to decide which of their courses will be part of the Connections Curriculum.
The language requirement for the new curriculum will be identical to the current Common Curriculum.
The final element is a distribution requirement. The details for this requisite are still to be determined.
Although many agree that the Common Curriculum needs to be changed, some believe the new curriculum won’t be beneficial to the students.
“I think that people have put in a lot of work and they have tried to change the Common Curriculum to better suit the needs of students. I think along the way they got caught up in assessments, and I think that they’re trying to force a connection between things instead of letting students explore connections,” St. John’s junior Zack Eichten said. “We want everybody to be able to make these connections across all the disciplines- I agree. I just don’t know if this lack of flexibility will be able to create those connections.”
One of the major concerns with the new curriculum is the amount of commitment to required courses and seminars each student must take.
“We go to a small school. Often there’s one class that’s taught once every three years and if you don’t get into that section that’s tough luck,” Eichten said. “A student in the current curriculum could easily do a double major, do the honors program and study abroad and make the most of their experience to get the most out of everything. To change this to the current way they have laid out right now they’d be able to do a major, maybe study abroad, hopefully study abroad, but I think it really limits people’s options as far as structure goes. It’s almost too structured in my opinion.”
For Eichten, not everything about the new curriculum sounds bad, but some things need more clarification.
“If they claim that all these courses could actually be used for everybody’s majors and minors that makes me feel less worried about it,” Eichten said. “But in practice I think that you have a small school with a small number of sections for things, and if I’m not first in my cohort I might end up having to miss the classes that would actually benefit me in my real life.”
On April 11, 2017, the JFS endorsed the new Connections Curriculum that the Common Curriculum Visioning Committee proposed.
Following the endorsement, a voting process began through the Joint Faculty Assembly (JFA).
“There’s a five-day business day voting period that will go until Thursday at 10 a.m.,” Esch said.
If the vote passes, the CCVC will spend the next two years working on the details and implementing the new curriculum. The first class that will follow the curriculum will be the class of 2023.
If the vote does not pass the CCVC will start the process anew.
Due to The Record’s print deadline, the outcome of the Common Curriculum vote was not available at press time. After the vote at 10 a.m. On Thursday, the vote counts were as follows:
Yes: 109; No:114; Abstain: 8. This means the vote did not pass.