The GE21 Task Force presented three models for reforming the current General Education model in February. The models are now up for discussion among faculty and students.
This latest attempt at Gen Ed reform comes after the SUNY system changed its minimum requirements in July 2010. The new standard allow for more flexibility and a lighter credit load, said Patrick Murphy, a member of the task force. Previous attempts, the most recent in 2000, have been largely ineffective due to old requirements and rocky dealings with the SUNY system.
With the new requirements the provost and select members of Faculty Assembly created a task force to reform General Education. The task force has been working for about a year. Gathering information, looking at how other school’s model Gen Ed programs and holding meetings with fruitful debate led to the three models that were released. The campus community was asked to give its opinion.
John Hughes, student representative for the GE21 Task Force, said he supports model two for its choices, but is moving toward model three, which emphasizes seminars. Model three is problematic, Hughes said, because the campus might not have the resources or the drive to properly run the seminars.
“Model three is also why I like model two, it’s very choice based,” Hughes said. “People always just talk about it… [These models offer] true academic freedom.”
A benefit of the third model and a problem faculty often raise is that upperclassmen are missing adequate research and writing skills.
The two seminars, if implemented properly, would alleviate that issue, Hughes said.
Murphy said the most likely outcome is a combination of the three. Each proposed model has its benefits and the end result could incorporate elements from all of them.
One unlikely result, however, is that the General Education requirements would remain the same. Problems plaguing the current model are that it prohibits some transfer students from graduating on time, it is credit heavy and that it leaves students with few options. The task force has gotten feedback, but there are few, if any, advocates for leaving the program as is.
The current program requires the average student to take 42 hours of Gen Ed credit, but some students are required to take up to 48 hours. The proposed models will lower the number to either 30 or 33 hours. This change will help transfer students and those seeking a double major.
From model one to model three the spectrum moves away from traditional forms. Model one covers all the bases broadly but “with high-quality, non-specialized courses.” Model three offers an outside-the-box-choice of many courses with two seminars, during freshman and sophomore years.
Murphy said a few of the goals for the new models are transfer student friendliness, transparency and efficiency. Incorporating these objectives while still preserving the role of Gen Ed as a way of exposing students to different areas of study and providing breadth and depth of knowledge is important to the mission.
For students who would like to share opinions, Murphy suggested going through SA Senate. The officers who are involved in Faculty Assembly will be voting on the reform.
Still in the stages of soliciting feedback, there is no way to tell when these changes might take place but Murphy said that they are hoping for quick implementation of the new model. The earliest the changes could take place would be fall 2013.